If independents demonstrate divisions among the Democratic candidates’ supporters, Republicans demonstrate yawning chasms. Few of the self-described Republicans who turned out to vote in the Democratic primaries in North Carolina and Indiana seem to actually support the candidate for whom they voted. Perhaps most intriguingly, however, is an apparent effort by Republicans to promote Clinton’s candidacy when they feel Obama is the better nominee.
In each state Clinton carried the vote of Republican voters — 52 to 44 percent for Obama in Indiana, and 61 to 32 percent in North Carolina. Republicans made up only 5 percent in North Carolina’s Democratic primary electorate, but made up 11 percent of the vote in the Indiana Democratic primary, enough to provide Clinton’s expected margin of victory.
While taking the time to turn out and vote in the Democratic primaries, Republican voters in both states have plans to vote for McCain in November. In North Carolina, 74 percent and 76 percent of Republicans said they would vote for McCain if Clinton or Obama, respectively, were the nominee. In Indiana, 66 percent would vote for McCain against Clinton, and 61 percent would vote McCain if Obama’s the nominee.
The exit polls reveal striking evidence of strategic voting by Republicans in both primaries, voting for the candidate they find least likely to win. Even though a majority of Republicans in each state voted for Clinton, they give Obama the better chance in November. In Indiana where 52 percent of Republicans supported Clinton, only 37 percent think she is more likely than Obama to win in November. In North Carolina the results were similar — while 61 percent of Republicans voted for Clinton, only 48 percent think she is the better general election candidate.
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