Here's more data for the raging debate over GOP mischief in last night's Democratic primary in Indiana: On balance, network exit polls show Republican crossover voters expressing little other than a sincere preference for Clinton over Obama.
First, Clinton edged Obama in Indiana's open primary among self-identified Democrats, 52 to 48 percent. And removing all GOP-identifiers from the voter pool does not budge the overall result. Perhaps the focus on non-Democrats is misplaced.
But the topline numbers are so intriguing.
Republicans made up 10 percent of all Democratic voters in Indiana last night, their highest share of the electorate in any Democratic primary this year other than Mississippi. Not only did Clinton win Republicans in Indiana by eight percentage points, but about six in 10 of those who supported her in the primary said they would vote for McCain over Clinton in a hypothetical general election match-up. (Most Republicans voting for Obama said they would stick with him in the fall.)
A closer look, however, reveals that most Republicans for Clinton appear to genuinely prefer Clinton to Obama, which was the choice at hand. They opted to vote in one of the hottest elections in years, perhaps with an eye to giving themselves more appealing options in the fall.
About nine in 10 GOP Clinton voters said she would make a better commander in chief, and more than six in 10 said she would have a better shot at beating McCain. They were also more than twice as likely as other voters to prioritize an experienced candidate. And three-quarters of these voters said they would be satisfied with Clinton atop the Dem ticket, just 15 percent said so about Obama.
A narrow majority of Clinton Republicans did say that Clinton does not share their values, but more said so of Obama. All politics is comparative.
And looking at the Indiana exit poll numbers by race also seems to dampen any "Limbaugh effect." Overall, Clinton won the state's white voters by 20 percentage points. Republicans, 95 percent of those who voted Democratic yesterday were white, broke for her by eight points, but that was much narrower than her win among white Democrats: she outpaced Obama by nearly 2-1 among those voters.