Questions are surfacing in the blogosphere about whether or not Florida’s primary was a truly “closed” primary since John McCain rec’d 17% of votes from people identifying themselves as Independents (and 3% as Dems). Captain Ed explains here that what happened in Florida was perfectly normal under closed primary rules:
Closed-primary states typically prepare three ballots for their primary elections: Democrats, Republicans, and non-partisan. When a voter comes to the polling center, their listing carries their registration, and they receive the applicable ballot. That way, the state and the political parties can assure themselves that only registered Republicans even see the Republican candidates on the ballot, Democrats likewise, and independents and minor-party candidates only see the non-partisan races and initiatives.
This depends on registration, of course. Florida requires any registration changes to take place at least 29 days before an election. In my experience in California, independents would often re-register as either Democrats or Republicans in order to participate in primaries, and then re-register again as independents for the general election. It’s perfectly legal, and it is part of the normal primary process. Most of the time it makes no difference at all, because most primaries of late have not had the same wide-open quality of this one after the first three or four states.
In this case, exit polls show “party identification” statistics that put 20% of the voters outside of the Republican Party. That’s their stated personal identification, not their actual party registration for last night’s primaries. That’s not a bug, it’s a feature, and it’s unavoidable — unless major parties want to stop re-registering voters altogether.
He also adds this at the end:
Republicans need to look elsewhere for answers. No one robbed us of a closed primary in Florida. Even among self-identified Republicans in this exit poll split equally between McCain and Romney, so it isn’t as if Republicans didn’t significantly support the winner of this contest.
Yep, but as Gateway Pundit notes here, the conservative based lined up with Romney by close to 10% more than they did McCain.
So it’s not over. But with Rudy’s anticipated endorsement of McCain today, the Mc carries a wave of momentum going into Super Tuesday. Mitt Romney’s got a lot of work to do both tonight at the debate at the Reagan Library, and in the coming days, to try to halt McCain’s “inevitability.”