It seems like a fun way to stir up mischief, but you're only strengthening the Alabama Republican Party & discouraging good Democratic candidates. Why bother to put yourself out there, give up family time, spend money, and weather political attacks if the people in your own party are going to play with the other team?
I know people have good reasons for doing this. I've heard them from close friends, family, and Facebook friends. They offer two main rationales:
- “There's a nutcase Republican running and I'm afraid he'll win, so I'm going to vote for the guy who looks rational by comparison.”
- “There aren't any (or many) Democrats on the ballot. If I want a voice, I have to vote Republican.”
Each make sense – in the short term. But campers, short-term thinking is what got the party in the mess it's in now.
Let's look at the first strategy. Why on earth should a Democrat help the Republican nominate the most electable candidate? That's the dumbest long-term strategy there is because it weakens the Democrat in the general election at the same time it gives independent and low-information voters an attractive Republican candidate.
If Democrats in Senate races in 2010 and 2012 had played this game, we might well have lost the Senate. Where would the Republicans have ended up if they hadn't been saddled with Christine (“I am not a witch“) O'Donnell, Todd (“legitimate rape“) Aiken, Richard (pregnancy from rape is “something God intended)” Mourdock, or Sharon (if raped, “turn lemons into lemonade“) Angle? I know where: with Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader & the GOP in total control of Congress.
Aren't we glad that Democrats didn't stampede the GOP primaries and keep those loons off the ballot? Sure we are! So why would we choose a different strategy in Alabama?
Let's look at how well that worked in 2010 – the year of the GOP Supermajority.
Our Governor Dr. Robert Bentley swept to victory in the primary and runoff thanks to money courtesy of the AEA. It was a grudge match between Paul Hubbard and Bradley Byrne: Bentley was the unexpected recipient of millions of AEA's anti-Byrne ads. It was well known that AEA funded Bentley in the primary, so in November many of the members marched to the polls and voted for the man & the party that gave us the great private school giveaway and no Medicaid expansion.
Of course, Byrne came steaming back in the Congressional special election this year where Democratic votes helped him defeat TEA Party candidate Dean Young.
Now, Byrne HAD a Democratic opponent, and the same crossover Democrats who voted for Byrne said they'd of course “support the Democrat in the general election,” but Dean Young was just unacceptable. I'm sure Burton LeFlore, the Democratic nominee, feels a lot better knowing that – but how did crossover Democrats in Byrne's district feel about their handiwork when the first bill their new Congressman sponsored was to “repeal Obamacare?”
If that didn't curdle the crossover cream, nothing will.
Is that much different than Dean Young? Byrne is smarter and slicker, but the voting results in Congress and the legislature are the same.
Also in 2010, we had numerous Democrats in the 5th district cross over into the GOP primary to vote against party switcher Parker Griffith (who, in a nausea-inducing turn of events, is now on the Democratic ballot for governor). They bragged later about voting against turncoat Parker, but in so doing, they helped the GOP nominate Mo Brooks – the strongest possible candidate to go up against Steve Raby, the Democratic nominee.
Didn't that work well? This year, there's not even a token Democrat on the ballot against Brooks: he's skating to victory & giving all y'all crossover Dems a friendly wave of thanks.
Now, that brings us to reason #2 – the lack of contested Democratic primaries or even a general election candidate. That's a huge concern for all of us, but let's again look back at 2010, where we had contested Democratic primaries from the Governor down to the Treasurer. But so what? AEA was sending its folks to vote against Byrne & 5th district Democrats had their own grudge match against Griffith.
What was the result? The weakest possible candidates for Treasurer and Attorney General: Charley Grimsley for Treasurer, a guy who'd maxed out to George Bush and was a huge supporter of Roy Moore, and James Anderson – a bingo lawyer for Attorney General. In the 5th district, Steve Raby was a nice guy and great fundraiser, but also a lobbyist running in a year when lobbyist was a nasty word.
Looking at that debacle, why would any Democrats want to jump in the race? If they can't count on their own base voters, they might as well grab the remote control and watch a movie.
The lack of Democrats on the ballot in the primary and even leaving general election seats uncontested is also a symptom of the weakness of the ADP leadership and a big reason that we need to repopulate the SDEC with people who want to to bring the party back from the dead. The current leadership is -IMO- more interested in the prestige (such as it is) with being a “party leader” and the fun, ADP-paid junkets to DNC meetings where they get to stay in luxury hotels and pretend to be important.
Until there's new leadership in the party and strong grassroots organizations in every county, the party will continue to diminish.
I do feel for people who don't have local candidates on the primary ballot – but the answer to that problem is NOT to contribute to it by voting Republican. It's to raise hell with your local party & the state party and find out why there's a dearth of candidates. Get in involved with your local party and pay attention to what's happening on the state level – run for the SDEC too!
There's NO SUCH THING as strategic voting if you're doing it to nominate the least objectionable Republican. Don't kid yourself.