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Posted at 12:38 PM ET, 03/01/2012

Ohio primary ‘semi-open’ to Democratic mischief


Rick Santorum holds up a piece of oil-rich shale rock at a rally Tuesday in Grand Rapids, Mich. (Joe Raedle - Getty Images)
So now it’s off to Super Tuesday, where Ohio is looking like the big prize. Santorum’s leading in the polls there, but the trees are much like Michigan’s, so Romney may do well.

The blog Daily Kos, which launched Operation Hilarity to encourage Democratic crossovers in Michigan, said in a post Wednesday that it was shifting focus for Super Tuesday to North Dakota, Tennessee and Vermont.

It didn’t include the Buckeye state — maybe because the Republican National Committee put out a list that says the Ohio primary is “closed.” And we haven’t heard of any crossover effort there so far.

But we called the Ohio Republican Party and were told it was “semi-open,” which sounds a lot like the Michigan rules. “You can ask for a Republican ballot or a Democratic ballot,” a worker at the party headquarters in Columbus said. The Democrats called it “semi-closed,” which sounds to us like pretty much the same thing.

Uh-oh . . .

Meanwhile, the pundits and pollsters are still sifting through the Michigan GOP primary rubble.One thing seems clear: The big winner looks to be Barack Obama.

Back in November, a Detroit Free Press poll showed semi-native son Mitt Romney leading Obama by five points, 46-41. A poll in late January by EPIC-MRA of Lansing showed Obama had edged ahead by eight points, 48-40.

Last week, as Romney and Rick Santorum pummeled each other, an NBC Marist poll had Obama ahead in the supposed battleground state by 18 points, 51-33, leading NBC political director Chuck Todd to declare that “Michigan is done,” it is “not in the battleground, let’s stop pretending that it is.” Well, November’s a long ways off.

Meanwhile, the Democratic crossover vote, while a healthy 9 or 10 percent of the total GOP primary vote, apparently was not as organized or robust as it was in 2000.

Still, it may have helped pad Rick Santorum’s total by as much as three points — converting what would have been a healthy five- or six-point win by Romney into a much less bragworthy 3-point event, at 41 percent to 38 percent.

(Unclear whether the crossovers affected the delegate count, which turned out to be evenly split with Romney and Santorum each getting 15.)

Michigan pollster Steve Mitchell points out that, were it not for Romney’s five-point lead among absentee voters, the former Massachusetts governor would have lost. Romney’s absentee ballot edge, Mitchell said, many from older voters who remembered the Romney brand from years ago, “overcame Santorum’s win among those who actually went to the polls on Tuesday.”

By  |  12:38 PM ET, 03/01/2012

Tags:  Santorum, Romney, Obama, Michigan primary, Ohio primary, Daily Kos, Operation Hilarity, Democratic crossover vote, crossovers, Buckeye state, delegates, Democratic crossover, Ohio Republican Party, Chuck Todd

 
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