Did Limbaugh Push Clinton Over the Top in Texas?
Yesterday, James reported here that Rush Limbaugh was urging his Texas supporters to vote for Hillary Clinton to help weaken Obama and clear a path for an eventual McCain victory. Yesterday, James was pretty sure that this effort wouldn’t work. However, Dave Weigel has run the numbers and it looks like Rush may have been successful.
Go and check the exit polls. In Wisconsin, Republicans made up 9 percent of the Democratic primary vote. Obama won them 72-28 over Clinton. Just as tellingly, 14 percent of primary voters said they were “conservative,” and Obama won them 59-40, a bigger margin than he won with liberals or moderates. Tactical voters who said Obama stood a better chance of winning in November? They went for him 87-13.
It’s a similar story in Texas, where Limbaugh has the most listeners of any of these states. Obama won the Republican vote 52-47, but conservatives (22 percent of all voters, up from 15 percent in the Kerry-Edwards primary) went against Obama. For the first time since Super Tuesday, they were Clinton’s best ideological group: She won them 53-43. And Clinton won 13 percent of the people who said Obama was the most electable candidate.
Ohio didn’t wind up being very close, but Clinton won the Texas primary by about 98,000 votes out of 2.8 million cast. If the exits are right, about 252,000 of those voters were Republicans, and about 618,000 were conservatives. Clinton truly might have won the Texas primary on the backs of Rush Limbaugh listeners.
I think that it would take some number-running of more past open primaries than just Wisconsin to claim that Limbaugh made a difference in Texas, but there certainly does appear to be a strong prima facie case, especially when you compare this to the Texas caucus results, where Obama has a slight edge as of this writing. I can buy GOP crossovers to vote in the primary, but I doubt that too many of them would then go through the hassle of caucusing.
UPDATE (James Joyner): Alex is right, of course, that we need comparative data to draw meaningful conclusions. But the exit polls that Dave has — as he acknowledges — Obama winning among self-described Republicans. We don’t know what the number would have been had Limbaugh not made his pronouncements, obviously, but the fact that a majority of the tiny minority of Republicans voting in the primary went the other way would seem to counter the “Limbaugh won it for Hillary” thesis.
And, yes, Clinton won among conservatives. But she won among ALL ideological demographics: 51% of the liberals, 50% of the moderates, and 52% of conservatives. Broken down further, she does her very best, with 58%, with those who say they’re “very conservative.” But why wouldn’t conservatives go for the more conservative of the two candidates?