Huffington Post columnist Jason Linkins told his Facebook friends that he backed Rubio in Virginia, "thus doing my bit to try to hold down the white supremacist loon's delegate count in the Commonwealth." The Atlantic's Peter Beinart wrote a longer column, shared more than 11,000 times on Facebook, expressly asking fellow liberals to back Rubio.
After asking (on Twitter, naturally) how many other progressive voters felt the Marcomentum, plenty wrote in to explain why they were jumping into the GOP primary.
"I am a democrat that voted today for Rubio," wrote Caroline Schoenecker, 32, a voter in Arlington, Virginia. "I did not want to miss the opportunity to vote against Trump. After initial analysis, I didn't feel like the race between Clinton and Sanders was close enough, especially in VA. As for Trump, I am horrified with how this man can radically change our country for the worst. Michael Gerson's opinion piece summed up my feelings on the danger of his world view. This is how fascism starts. I have been very open with my fellow democratic friends that today is important, and working to ensure that Trump is less likely to get the nomination is something we can and should do. Watching his antics has moved from a spectator sport to a crisis that requires actions."
Tom Paquin, a Cambridge, Mass. resident, voted for Rubio and provided what "might be the only Republican vote in this part of town.""Given Trump's support in my state among the neanderthals in Western Massachusetts, I doubt it'll make much of a difference, but I'm hopeful enough common-sense conservatives will rally behind the establishment choice, as vague a choice as it is with such a diluted field," said Paquin. A Massachusetts GOP subdivision has been spamming social media with 'Reagan Revolution' propaganda, promoting Trump as their given national candidate. I'd expect that wing will ultimately win out today, since they invoked the 'R' word."
In Norfolk, Va., Stephen Cox cast a strategic vote for Rubio. "Trump is so completely awful and unqualified that his election would substantially damage the country for a long time," he said. "He's not Hitler, exactly, but he's easily a potential tinpot dictator. If Rubio is elected I'll gag and oppose just about everything he does, but that's standard democracy -- he'll adequately represent the views of a normal party. He'll appoint normal, competent people from the Republican pool. Trump appointees would be people on the order of Sarah Palin, Joe Arpaio, and his lawyer who made the marital rape gaffe."
But not every crossover voter was going for the candidate who seemed to be closest to Trump in local polls. Eric Bertram voted in Virginia for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, because he'd read delegate rules and felt that any anti-Trump vote would be more or less equal.
"I think that the GOP helped pave the way for a candidate like Trump and part of me wanted to just let them reap what they sowed, especially since I think HRC would beat him in the general," said Bertram. "But if he gets to the general, he's only one step away from running this country. So since I would hope my GOP friends would vote for HRC in the general against Trump, I figured I too should do my part to try and keep Trump out of the White House."
Other progressives admitted that they had voted for Trump -- as a goof. Joseph Ramsey did so in Virginia, over the objections of his wife, as he thought the Democrats casting a strategic "moderate" vote for Rubio were "crazy."
"Ninety-nine-point-nine chance I'm voting for Hillary in November, but how could I pass up the chance for voting for the guy who hosted 'The Apprentice?'" asked Ramsey.
Other readers wrote to explain that they, and many people they knew, left the Democratic Party but returned to vote for Trump; some said that they'd considered the switch but worried about Rubio actually winning the general election. Stephen Cox, one of the Rubio voters, shared his "personal utility calculation:"
- Hillary: 10
- Rubio: 1
- Trump: -100
- Estimated chance of beating Hillary if elected:
- Rubio: 45%
- Trump: 25%
- .45*1 + .55*10=5.95 personal utility if Rubio is the nominee
- .25*(-100) + .75*10=-17.5 personal utility if Trump is the nominee
"Numbers aren't exact," wrote Cox, "but the bottom line is I'd have to be like 99 percent sure that Hillary would beat Trump to be OK with a Trump nomination. I'm pretty sure she'd win, but an indictment, a recession, a terrorist attack, etc. leave Trump with way too many winning possibilities."