There’s some consternation in the conservative blogosphere this morning about the Florida results. They’re trying to understand how a closed GOP primary could include Independent and Democratic voters. Considering we’re talking about the Sunshine State here (they have such a wonderful history with elections), I can’t say I blame them.
It’s worth noting, though, that however tightly wound the right blogosphere is getting itself, the exit polls show no votes at all for the GOP candidates by self-identified Dems. (See page 4 here)
Ed Morrissey has an explanation for the perceived cross-party oddities, but with Rush Limbaugh hinting at conspiracy theories and hoping for scandals, it probably won’t hold up.
And the 20% of non-Republican voters in the GOP primary is only a bit less than the Democratic primary, where the exit polls indicated 21% of the voters were not Democrats. (See page 3 here.) Odd in a closed primary, but not impossible if Ed is correct. Unlike the Republican data, however, the Dem primary cross-votes are reported… and the majority of self-identified Republicans went (very strangely) for Edwards.
But while the Dems held a “beauty contest”, Republicans — particularly conservatives — saw the Florida primary as a litmus test. To them, this first closed primary was viewed as a measure of what, if anything, McCain and Romney’s relative conservativeness meant within the party.
The answer appears to be… not enough — because although 61% of voters identified themselves as conservative, only 37% of those voted for Romney. (I have to say, though, that Huckabee appears to have been a spoiler in that group.). Along more-detailed ideological lines, in fact, Romney only won among people who said they were “very conservative”. McCain won every other group. (Also page 4)
So — looks to me as if the Republicans have found their candidate. The only way I can see the situation changing for Romney at this point is if Huckabee drops out.
Good luck with that.
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More Florida analysis:
Dr. Steven Taylor has the Post-Toasties up.
James Joyner’s Postmortem is here.
Joe Gandelman talks about the Republicans’ ideological battles here.