Why Does Santorum Oppose Cross-Party Voting?

I don’t often play political analyst. I’m more interested in actual policy issues, and I don’t prefer one party over the other. But it’s fun to do now and then. So here’s why I think Rick Santorum is wrong to oppose open primaries that states like Michigan have.

In an open primary, people don’t have to be Republicans to vote in a Republican primary. Independents and Democrats can vote, too. Closed primaries exclude non-party members from voting in a given party’s primary.

Rick Santorum’s goal is to win the GOP’s presidential nomination. He will not be getting this blog’s endorsement, to understate the case. But I’ll give him some free advice anyway.

Santorum’s social issue stances are, to be polite, polarizing. That makes him an easy general election kill; he doesn’t appeal to independents or Democrats. That gives independents, and especially Democrats, an incentive to vote for Santorum in the primaries, at least in open-primary states where the rules allow it. A Santorum-Obama contest will probably end in Obama’s favor.

So if Santorum wants the nomination, and at least a small shot at the White House, he should court hostile voters in open-primary states like Michigan.

Romney, for his many faults, probably has the best shot of winning a general election of anyone in the GOP field. That means Democrats want him to lose, and someone polarizing like Santorum to win. They’ll turn out for Santorum, if only he’d ask them to. That’s probably his best shot at winning something most people would rather he wouldn’t.

It’s a cynical strategy. Then again, politics is nothing if not applied cynicism.

UPDATE: Looks like the Santorum campaign didn’t need any prompting from me. Turns out they’ve been doing robocalls.

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