Will Hillary voters hand the GOP nomination to Rand Paul?

posted at 4:41 pm on April 9, 2014 by Allahpundit

A fiendishly clever theory from Peter Beinart. Remember “Operation Chaos”? That was Rush Limbaugh’s plan to have GOP voters wreak havoc on the Democratic nominating process in 2008. With McCain’s nomination already all but assured and Obama clinging to an apparently insurmountable lead over Hillary, Rush encouraged Republicans in states with open primaries (i.e. states where you don’t have to be registered as a party member to vote in that party’s primary) to cross over and vote for Hillary in the Democratic primary instead. The idea was to drag the primary process out for Democrats as long as possible, forcing O to keep campaigning to protect his lead and encouraging further bloodletting between Obama and Clinton.

Fast-forward eight years. Assuming Hillary waltzes to the nomination in 2016 while the GOP primary is as competitive as everyone expects, it’ll be Democratic voters who’ll have nothing to lose by crossing over and voting in the other team’s primary. And who’s likely to benefit from that, Beinart asks?

When it comes to government’s role in the economy, Paul’s views are diametrically opposed to most Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. But that will be true of his major opponents too. What distinguishes Paul is that on some high-profile issues—government spying, military intervention, prison sentences—he espouses views that many Democrats find not only agreeable, but downright exciting. On NSA surveillance, for instance, Paul probably better represents the views of many grassroots liberal activists than do many Washington Democrats. Paul is more reluctant to send American troops into harm’s way than Hillary Clinton. The recently discovered speech in which he suggested Dick Cheney pushed for the Iraq War so that Halliburton would profit.

If liberals don’t know that Paul holds these views now, they will by 2016. With the Democratic primary campaign a snooze, the press will devote massive attention to the GOP race. And Paul’s Republican opponents will mercilessly attack him for his unorthodox national-security views, thus likely winning him even more sympathy among liberal Democrats and Independents.

The best model for all this is 2000 when John McCain—although a conventional Republican on many issues—titillated Democrats with his crusade for campaign-finance reform and his criticism of George W. Bush’s plan for to cut taxes for the rich. The more the GOP establishment demonized McCain, the more Democrats and liberal independents figured he must be doing something right. Independents comprised almost a third of the voters in the New Hampshire primary that year, and they favored McCain over Bush by 42 points.

As the most left-leaning candidate in the GOP field on social issues and civil liberties, Paul’s a natural choice for Democrats who are bored with their own primary. There’ll also be other Democrats who cross over to vote for him (and probably for Cruz) for purely strategic reasons, because they’re convinced that a right-wing ideologue will be the easiest candidate for Hillary to beat in the general election. Regardless of motive, Paul himself will eat this up because it plays directly into his big theme of the past year, that Republicans need to grow the party and win votes from constituencies who typically ignore them. If he squeaks to a huge win in New Hampshire or South Carolina (both of which have open primaries) and exit polls show a significant share of his vote came from Democrats, he’ll tout it as proof that he’s doing exactly what he said he’d do. He grew the party. He got voters across the aisle excited enough to vote for him in a Republican primary. Some of them will surely stick with him for the general election. Right?

A few questions, though. One: Given the roundhouses that Rand’s been throwing at Bill Clinton, how many Hillary fans will refuse to vote for him on principle? I think Paul’s concluded that one way he can impress conservatives who are trying to choose between him and Cruz is to get out in front on scrapping with the Clintons. It raises his visibility and signals that he’d be a fighter as a nominee. If that’s true, then he’s sure to attack both of them more often over the next 15 months. Hillary supporters will notice and that’ll make it harder to pull the lever for him, even for strategic reasons.

Two: Personally, if the GOP primary were meaningless, I might consider voting for someone in the Democratic primary only if I thought he/she stood a fair chance of winning the general election. There’d be strategic value in that since I’d be helping to narrow the options to lead the country in a way that excludes outcomes that are less acceptable to me. If, however, I were convinced that the Democrat I’m inclined to vote for has little chance of being elected, I wouldn’t bother voting at all. Why waste the vote? In that case, I’m better off voting for the weakest Democrat in the field to make it easier for the GOP in the general. Point being, it’ll be conventional wisdom among both Democrats and many Republicans come 2016 that Paul, if nominated, simply cannot win. Beinart himself describes Paul as a right-wing McGovern in the making. If you’re a Democrat voting in an open GOP primary, you might vote for him for that reason, that he’s a patsy. But why would you drag yourself down to the polling place to vote for the most left-ish candidate in a right-wing group if you also think he’s unelectable? I think Beinart’s theory is likelier to play out as a true Operation Chaos, with Dems voting strategically, than them voting for Paul in earnest.

Three: All of this depends on how long Democrats wait before they set about trying to destroy Paul. Do they wait until he’s the nominee or do they start earlier to prepare the ground for the scorched-earth campaign to come? Everything in presidential politics starts earlier these days; the stronger Paul looks next fall, before anyone’s voted, the more tempted Democrats will be to unfurl their anti-Paul narrative — he’s a neo-confederate, he wants to destroy the welfare state, he wants to eliminate workplace protections, he won’t defend the country, and on and on. Democratic voters will be getting a steady diet of this before, I think, the first caucuses in Iowa open. That being so, how many rank-and-file Dems will be eager to cross over for him? And bear in mind, at the same time Democratic groups are attacking him, Paul himself will be busy trying to sell himself as a fairly orthodox conservative to mainstream righties, which means downplaying some of those libertarian social impulses that Democrats find appealing. Doesn’t mean Beinart’s totally wrong — Paul will get votes from indies and Democrats — but is the crossover effect enough to prove decisive? I wonder.


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Rand Paul is a little too hedging or timid in his libertarian positioning. That’s not going to come off well, or win the election. While we want someone that will take truly bold steps to curtail the out of control federal govt, I mostly hear about the NSA and that sort of thing from Paul. We need someone that boldly proclaims govt is out of control, and runs and wins on that. That’s Ted Cruz.

anotherJoe on April 9, 2014 at 4:53 PM

The recently discovered speech in which he suggested Dick Cheney pushed for the Iraq War so that Halliburton would profit.

Holy Sentence Fragment, Batman…!!!

JohnGalt23 on April 9, 2014 at 4:53 PM

I think he’s crapped the bed with the Clintons already, although, I certainly hope it continues.

butch on April 9, 2014 at 4:55 PM

Beinart himself describes Paul as a right-wing McGovern in the making.

I swear, I remember hearing that in late 1979, just about word for word. A right wing McGovern.

Guess who they were talking about…

JohnGalt23 on April 9, 2014 at 4:57 PM

Excellent analysis, AP. Rand is also vulnerable on the Civil Rights Act, his ideological purity to freedom does not play well with the low-information moron.

John the Libertarian on April 9, 2014 at 4:58 PM

They may hand him the nomination, but as soon as he’s on the ticket, the Goldwaterization begins…

Holy Sentence Fragment, Batman…!!!

JohnGalt23 on April 9, 2014 at 4:53 PM

I caught that too, lol. I reread it twice trying to find the verb; no joy. :)

Spannerhead on April 9, 2014 at 4:58 PM

Excellent analysis, AP. Rand is also vulnerable on the Civil Rights Act, his ideological purity to freedom does not play well with the low-information moron.

John the Libertarian on April 9, 2014 at 4:58 PM

I would note that, should Frau Pantsuit get the nod, the man she supported for POTUS against Lyndon Johnson likewise opposed the CRA, on exactly the same grounds…

JohnGalt23 on April 9, 2014 at 5:00 PM

The recently discovered speech in which he suggested Dick Cheney pushed for the Iraq War so that Halliburton would profit.

Crackpottery.

rrpjr on April 9, 2014 at 5:01 PM

A few questions, though. One: Given the roundhouses that Rand’s been throwing at Bill Clinton, how many Hillary fans will refuse to vote for him on principle?

Unless poly-”marriage” is 2016′s gay “marriage”, the Rodham acolytes will see that as an asset.

Steve Eggleston on April 9, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Will Hillary voters hand the GOP nomination to Rand Paul?

Oh good Lord! Can’t we at least get through the 2014 elections before we start in on the plots that involve stuff way too clever for anybody who works in politics? The Killary Kamp does not have an evil lair crafting a master plan. At this point, the entire strategy is pointing out just what she does and does not have between her legs.

Happy Nomad on April 9, 2014 at 5:02 PM

Zomg get off Rand Paul’s stuff and report the news about Cummings.

That’s got to be the biggest whopper today — puts his fitch bit in a new perspective.

jaxisaneurophysicist on April 9, 2014 at 5:03 PM

Guess who they were talking about…

JohnGalt23 on April 9, 2014 at 4:57 PM

It begins with Ronald and ends with Reagan?

TarheelBen on April 9, 2014 at 5:03 PM

I would note that, should Frau Pantsuit get the nod, the man she supported for POTUS against Lyndon Johnson likewise opposed the CRA, on exactly the same grounds…

JohnGalt23 on April 9, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Plus she was booted out of her law firm on ethics violations. But will the media ever report this? Better odds that Holder will ever do his job.

John the Libertarian on April 9, 2014 at 5:07 PM

It begins with Ronald and ends with Reagan?

TarheelBen on April 9, 2014 at 5:03 PM

No. George HW Bush.

Okay, I couldn’t even type that with a straight face…

JohnGalt23 on April 9, 2014 at 5:08 PM

He’s just like his dad, forget about it.

idesign on April 9, 2014 at 5:08 PM

Operation Chaos got more attention than it deserved in 2008 and it’s not going to play a big factor this time either. Momentum and the support of big donors and political players are far more important than any marginal votes that Democratic crossover votes might provide.

LukeinNE on April 9, 2014 at 5:09 PM

I honestly thing that Rand Paul is being completely underestimated.

The man is going where others are not – and he is hitting a chord.

Who knows?

jake-the-goose on April 9, 2014 at 5:10 PM

Guess who they were talking about…

JohnGalt23 on April 9, 2014 at 4:57 PM

John. I like Rand. I’m keeping an open mind about everyone so far. But … he is not Ronald Reagan. And the proper retort is not … “Good”.

Reagan moved people. Reagan spoke and people leaned forward in their seats because he was firing them up. I don’t see any of our candidates with that level of charisma yet.

hawkdriver on April 9, 2014 at 5:12 PM

I certainly hope that Herr Doktor’s son isn’t the nominee-because if he is I might only vote the down ticket.
Tree. Apple.

annoyinglittletwerp on April 9, 2014 at 5:12 PM

Personally, if the GOP primary were meaningless, I might consider voting for someone in the Democratic primary only if I thought he/she stood a fair chance of winning the general election. There’d be strategic value in that since I’d be helping to narrow the options to lead the country in a way that excludes outcomes that are less acceptable to me. If, however, I were convinced that the Democrat I’m inclined to vote for has little chance of being elected, I wouldn’t bother voting at all. Why waste the vote? In that case, I’m better off voting for the weakest Democrat in the field to make it easier for the GOP in the general. Point being, it’ll be conventional wisdom among both Democrats and many Republicans come 2016 that Paul, if nominated, simply cannot win. Beinart himself describes Paul as a right-wing McGovern in the making. If you’re a Democrat voting in an open GOP primary, you might vote for him for that reason, that he’s a patsy. But why would you drag yourself down to the polling place to vote for the most left-ish candidate in a right-wing group if you also think he’s unelectable? I think Beinart’s theory is likelier to play out as a true Operation Chaos, with Dems voting strategically, than them voting for Paul in earnest.

Heh. I very seriously doubt the average Democrat voter will spend the time it took me to read this on rational evaluation of candidates and their vote.

They’ll just follow the rest of the herd, as usual.

novaculus on April 9, 2014 at 5:13 PM

I will happily consider this theory if you provide me with something.

A list of every time Peter Beinart has EVER been right about ANYTHING.

Feel free to go back to his elementary school records, if need be.

Adjoran on April 9, 2014 at 5:14 PM

It’s 2014. Can we cover the 2014 elections before it’s over?

Dusty on April 9, 2014 at 5:15 PM

annoyinglittletwerp on April 9, 2014 at 5:12 PM

C’mon, alt. I’m my father’s son, but differ from him in many ways.

John the Libertarian on April 9, 2014 at 5:16 PM

John. I like Rand. I’m keeping an open mind about everyone so far. But … he is not Ronald Reagan.

hawkdriver on April 9, 2014 at 5:12 PM

Just telling ya where and when I heard the phrase “right wing McGovern” first…

JohnGalt23 on April 9, 2014 at 5:19 PM

I swear, I remember hearing that in late 1979, just about word for word. A right wing McGovern.

Guess who they were talking about…

JohnGalt23 on April 9, 2014 at 4:57 PM

I hope you atleast get paid money to Lie about Reagan and attempt to deceive Republicans.

jp on April 9, 2014 at 5:23 PM

Can we please post more about 2014?

Hillary Clinton will NOT be the nominee.

Redford on April 9, 2014 at 5:25 PM

For the thousandth time, this is why we should not have the early primaries in states with open primaries. It only allows liberals to have an inordinate amount of influence over who our candidate will be. Why should a Democrat’s vote in New Hampshire mean more to the GOP than a Republican’s vote in Texas? It is the height of insanity to continue doing this. Until it is changed, we will only nominate the furthest left loser than the RINOs/Democrats can muster.

Theophile on April 9, 2014 at 5:27 PM

John. I like Rand. I’m keeping an open mind about everyone so far. But … he is not Ronald Reagan. And the proper retort is not … “Good”.

Reagan moved people. Reagan spoke and people leaned forward in their seats because he was firing them up. I don’t see any of our candidates with that level of charisma yet.

hawkdriver on April 9, 2014 at 5:12 PM

Well, what about Ted Cruz? Paul isn’t Reagan, but is Ted Cruz.. Reagan?

anotherJoe on April 9, 2014 at 5:28 PM

I find this acceptable. Just not Jeb, Huckabee, or Christie.

John Deaux on April 9, 2014 at 5:30 PM

If he squeaks to a huge win in New Hampshire or South Carolina (both of which have open primaries) and exit polls show a significant share of his vote came from Democrats, he’ll tout it as proof that he’s doing exactly what he said he’d do. He grew the party. He got voters across the aisle excited enough to vote for him in a Republican primary. Some of them will surely stick with him for the general election. Right?

The fly in the ointment.

Bitter Clinger on April 9, 2014 at 5:32 PM

Assuming Hillary waltzes to the nomination in 2016…

Bad assumption. Don’t forget Joke Biden, John F’n Kerry, Howie-Wowie Dean, Silky Pony, any ambitious unaccomplished black guys like Barry, Chief Liawatha, Bernie Sanders, etc.

Those people all think VERY highly of themselves, and they are not going to just roll over for a fat old white woman that has led a life of white privilege.

slickwillie2001 on April 9, 2014 at 5:33 PM

Well, what about Ted Cruz? Paul isn’t Reagan, but is Ted Cruz.. Reagan?

anotherJoe on April 9, 2014 at 5:28 PM

Sarah Palin is Reagan, who was an actor and spent 9 years on GE radio after all. I like Ted Cruz, and if by some miracle he gets the nomination, I’ll vote for him happily, but he’s a political neophyte and not an executive.

Fenris on April 9, 2014 at 5:35 PM

^pretend I didn’t mess up the block quote.

Fenris on April 9, 2014 at 5:36 PM

This picture is totally fake. She’s very sick.

Schadenfreude on April 9, 2014 at 5:37 PM

This picture is totally fake. She’s very sick.

Schadenfreude on April 9, 2014 at 5:37 PM

I wouldn’t draw any conclusions. Some people just look really old in their late 60s, especially after a life of hard drinking and probably smoking too (no, not making a joke).

Fenris on April 9, 2014 at 5:41 PM

hawkdriver on April 9, 2014 at 5:12 PM

Well, what about Ted Cruz? Paul isn’t Reagan, but is Ted Cruz.. Reagan?

anotherJoe on April 9, 2014 at 5:28 PM

I think Cruz fires up the base a bit more at this point. I’m not making any hardcore distinctions right yet on anyone. What I know is there isn’t a Reagan out there.

hawkdriver on April 9, 2014 at 5:56 PM

I say we cross over and put Biden over the top on their side.

Operation Oh Shat!

DanMan on April 9, 2014 at 5:57 PM

hawkdriver on April 9, 2014 at 5:12 PM

Just telling ya where and when I heard the phrase “right wing McGovern” first…

JohnGalt23 on April 9, 2014 at 5:19 PM

Please. He’s not even close. John, you need to not start pushing him just because he’s a “Paul” right out of the blocks. Keep an open mind or you’re going to make people go sour.Krauthammer said it best though going back to Reagan, highlighting the fear he instilled in the Soviets.

This success is an understandable embarrassment to the critics who opposed his every policy. They supported the freeze, denounced the military buildup, ridiculed strategic defenses, opposed aid to the Nicaraguan anti-communists and derided Reagan for telling the truth about the Soviet empire.

So now they praise his sunny smile. Normally, people speak well of the recently deceased to honor the dictum of being kind to the dead. When Reagan’s opponents speak well of him now, however, they are trying to be kind to themselves.

hawkdriver on April 9, 2014 at 6:04 PM

I say we cross over and put Biden over the top on their side.

Operation Oh Shat!

DanMan on April 9, 2014 at 5:57 PM

I watched a video of Democrat voters the other day. You’d have to reintroduce Biden because none of them know who he is.

hawkdriver on April 9, 2014 at 6:07 PM

At this point, the entire strategy is pointing out just what she does and does not have between her legs.

Happy Nomad on April 9, 2014 at 5:02 PM

Other than rolls of fat, what else are you talking about?

Demonized on April 9, 2014 at 6:07 PM

If Hilldebeast’s minions give us Rand Paul as our nominee it will be the first good thing they’ve ever done for the country.

ConstantineXI on April 9, 2014 at 6:38 PM

Reagan won two landslides in part because Ds crossed over and voted for him. Remember the “Reagan democrats”?

Politics are too polarizing now. I can’t see any D voting for an R in the general, no matter who it is.

cat_owner on April 9, 2014 at 7:15 PM

That would be extremely dangerous, not because those democrats would come back and vote for Paul in the primary, but because it would put Hillary in the odd ball position of being more hawkish and pro-NSA than the GOP pick.

Hillary wants someone safe, like Jeb, who she feels she can simply beat due to name. Paul, like Obama, is too much of a wildcard for her.

William Eaton on April 9, 2014 at 7:25 PM

As the most left-leaning candidate in the GOP field on social issues and civil liberties

What? Left wing? Rand is pro life and pro traditional marriage. His stance on civil liberties is also conservative, instead of this garbage of tolerating droning U.S. citizens abroad, NSA surveillance, etc.

8 weight on April 9, 2014 at 7:40 PM

Actually, Operation Chaos was to have people switch their party affiliation in the primaries from Republican to Democrat, choose shrillary and then switch back. If the Dems want to doom us, they can choose Jeb, The Bridgetender, or the retread Mitt Romney

Brock Robamney on April 10, 2014 at 5:46 AM

What? Left wing? Rand is pro life and pro traditional marriage. His stance on civil liberties is also conservative, instead of this garbage of tolerating droning U.S. citizens abroad, NSA surveillance, etc.
8 weight on April 9, 2014 at 7:40 PM

Rand is also for amnesty, gay marriage, segregation, and isolationism

Brock Robamney on April 10, 2014 at 5:48 AM

Tod Aiken’s primary victory in Missouri was reportedly due to Democrat’s own operation chaos so the Republicans cannot claim they do not know the danger of open primaries.

Perhaps they could direct some of the resources now focused on ensuring a cheap labor force for the Chamber of Commerce to address that obvious gap.

Nomas on April 10, 2014 at 6:58 AM

They may hand him the nomination, but as soon as he’s on the ticket, the Goldwaterization begins…

>Holy Sentence Fragment, Batman…!!!
>
>JohnGalt23 on April 9, 2014 at 4:53 PM

I caught that too, lol. I reread it twice trying to find the verb; no joy. :)

Spannerhead on April 9, 2014 at 4:58 PM

The verbs are hand, and “Goldwaterization”. It’s a compound sentence.

And Sen. Paul has no executive experience. Any governor would be a better choice; preferably a two-term governor. Mr. Walker would do.

ReggieA on April 10, 2014 at 9:38 PM