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Crossover, Robocalls, and Michigan Shennanigans

Crossover, Robocalls, and Michigan Shennanigans

If you are a resident of Michigan, and your phone starts ringing today, there’s a pretty strong possibility that it may be Rick Santorum on the other end.

With today’s primary projected to have Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum neck and neck with each other, Santorum is looking for anything that could give him the edge he needs to get his upset.  And that involves a whole lot of robocalls.

Someone is calling people claiming to be from the National Rifle Association, comparing Santorum and Romney’s record on gun rights.  But the NRA says whoever is doing it, and wherever the list of contacts came from, they had nothing to do with it. “We’re not doing anything,’ said Andrew Arulanandam, director of Public Affairs for NRA-ILA, or Institute for Legislative Action. ‘Our position is anyone would be better than Barack Obama. It’s absolutely wrong. We are not paying for anything. We’re not spending one cent. That is not us — completely, unequivocally not us.’”

And that’s just a call to the likely Republicans. The campaign is also calling Democrats, targeting union members tell them Romney was against the auto bailout, and asking them to cross over and vote for Santorum in the open primary. “Bill Ballenger, a longtime Michigan politico and the editor of Inside Michigan Politics, spoke with TPM about the call earlier in the day. He said the call piqued his interest because it sounded like it could have come from a union targeting Romney ahead of the Feb. 28 primary. The call focuses on Romney’s opposition to the auto bailout and calls on Democrats to vote for Santorum Tuesday because of it. ‘It went on and on like this and I kept listening because I kind of smelled a rat,’ Ballenger said. ‘And finally at the very end, in a tagline it says, ‘this call was paid for by the Santorum for president committee.”’”

Romney is calling the tactics dirty politics.  “It’s a new low in this campaign.”  But it’s also a tactic that might have some lasting effect.  According to the Washington Post, cross over voting has been a game both parties enjoy playing.  “This is actually a pretty familiar exercise in Michigan, where the state voted for Democrats George Wallace in 1972 and Jesse Jackson in 1988 thanks, the story goes, to Republicans crossing over. More recently, Democrats were credited with giving the state to John McCain over George W. Bush in the 2000 GOP presidential race.”

With Republican state lawmakers encouraging the Democrats to participate, it may be hard for many to resist.  But in some ways, it could backfire and help Romney instead.  With the idea of Democrats infiltrating the process already out there, Santorum no longer has a shot at a legitimate win in the state — any victory will be tainted by the idea that it was Democratic meddling versus Republican choice.  For Romney, a loss can now be a win, and a win could be an incredible story of not just overcoming his opponent, but the Democratic party, too.

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Photo credit: wikimedia commons

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11 comments

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5:22PM PST on Mar 1, 2012

I'm a Michigan Democrat, and I received one of those Santorum robocalls. Of course, I just hung up and ignored it. I did not vote in this Republican primary, and neither did any of the other Democrats that I know.
In 2000, it was a different story: Many of us Dems voted for John McCain. But it wasn't a spoiler vote. It was an honest answer to the question: If a Republican wins the White House, which Republican would be the least objectionable to me? The Republicans ignored our vote and gave us George W. Bush. We saw how that turned out.
Shortly after the 2000 election, I heard an election expert say that actually very few crossover votes are spoiler votes, although they will be blamed when the results don't go in a candidate's direction.
This year, I could not, in good conscience, have voted for either one of these guys. If any of the current Republican candidates win, it will only increase the hold the big financial interests have on our government. Working class Americans, as well as the elderly, the impoverished, the environment, and the future generations who will have to live with limited energy resources, are circling the drain already. Republican policies are only about increasing corporate profits right now.

11:20AM PST on Feb 29, 2012

Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper has marched lock-step with the Republicans style of politics from the very beginning of his "leadership". I wouldn't be surprised if his letterheads said "President of Canada". And Americans wonder why we Canadians take such an interest in their politics. : - /

10:30AM PST on Feb 29, 2012

This sounds so like the way our self obsessed Prime Minister is running Canada. His team during the last election called other party supporters and intentionally sent them to the wrong polling stations. Hope the RCMP does for him.

10:19AM PST on Feb 29, 2012

Go Rick Santorum! Yeah,right!!!

8:13AM PST on Feb 29, 2012

There have been so many "irregularities" regarding voting during the GOP primaries, that we must be extra vigilant during the Presidential election.
I strongly encourage people to get involved with a movement called "Occupy the Election." Do whatever you can to ensure that voting procedures in your district are not dominated by one party.

9:59AM PST on Feb 28, 2012

Thanks Robin.

9:08AM PST on Feb 28, 2012

Robo calling worked for Harper in Canada thanks for sharing

8:52AM PST on Feb 28, 2012

Great...and we pay for the irritation of having SANTORUM on the phone?

ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!

8:48AM PST on Feb 28, 2012

Nothing but spam.

8:35AM PST on Feb 28, 2012

sorry, a month ago. wish we could edit.

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