By Alice Giordano
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is inspiring a crossover voting movement among Republicans similar to those seen in past presidential primaries but with a twist.
Janice Foster, currently a registered Republican in Lexington, Kentucky, told The Epoch Times she is registering Democrat to vote in the primaries not because she sees RFK Jr. as an easier candidate for her party to beat in general elections, but because she sees him as a better candidate for America than President Joe Biden.
“I’d rather Kennedy than Biden,” said Mrs. Foster, “I’d rather sacrifice my vote for a Republican than not do my part to make sure he doesn’t get back into office.”
In crossover voting, which can only occur in states with open primaries, electors switch parties to vote in the opposing primary usually in an effort to put their weakest candidate on the ballot and then switch votes for their original party’s candidate in general elections.
There are currently 20 states with open primaries or semi-open primaries. They include South Carolina, Texas, Georgia, Indiana, Virginia, Ohio, and Illinois.
Semi-open primaries allow unaffiliated voters to participate in the party primary of their choice without affiliating with the party.
There are also several states like New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York that have semi-closed primaries, which allows unaffiliated voters to vote in either primary, but they must register with that party on the day of primary voting.
Registered Republican Erin Fortin, a native of Maine where lawmakers passed legislation last year making the state’s primary semi-open, told The Epoch Times, she is “closing her eyes” and switching back to being a Democrat voter because she too wants to help foster Mr. Kennedy’s chances of beating Mr. Biden for the nomination.
“For me, the primaries are now more about protecting America against the worst candidate from the other party than trying to promote the weaker one for party gain purposes,” said Mrs. Fortin, who said she was a lifelong registered Democrat until the pandemic.
There have been several major attempts in modern politics to use crossover voting by one party to put a weaker candidate on the opposing party ticket to bolster the chances of winning for their party in the race for the presidency.
The two most prominent ones were dubbed Operation Chaos with the first one led by conservative talk show giant Rush Limbaugh, who has since died.
Mr. Limbaugh launched the crossover campaign in an effort to hand a win to Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama under the idea she couldn’t beat GOP contender Sen. John McCain.
Despite Mr. Limbaugh’s efforts, Obama won the primary and the White House.
The second was led by Tea Party Republicans in South Carolina in 2020 with Mr. Biden as the ultimate target.
According to an article by The Greenville News, the Greenville Republican Party called on supporters to pick Democrat contender Sen. Bernie Sanders and “vote for the worst Democrat.”
The scheme didn’t work. Biden not only overwhelmingly won South Carolina’s Democrat primary but went on to win the presidency.
Sen. Sanders eventually dropped out of the race after losing in several primaries.
A similar crossover campaign had been hatched by Democrats in South Carolina and Michigan two decades earlier in 2000 in the contest between Sen. McCain and George W. Bush.
Hundreds of Democrats in both states registered as Republicans in an effort to give Sen. McCain the party nomination under the idea that he would be easier to defeat by their party candidate Al Gore.
That crossover effort too failed and Bush went on to become president.
In 2022, TargetSmart, which bills itself the “nation’s leading Democratic analytics and research firm” conducted an in-depth study of crossover voting, and concluded that “it rarely happens in large enough numbers to sway the outcome of any primary.”
But Carla Gericke, a prominent figure in Libertarian politics, told The Epoch Times, that crossover voters have a unique scenario in their favor.
“We have a sitting president with a historically low approval rating and a Democratic challenger with a historically high approval rating from Republicans and Independents,” Ms. Gericke told The Epoch Times.
Ms. Gericke, a founder of the Free State Project, a grassroots campaign to draw thousands of libertarians to New Hampshire, said she has heard that there are crossover efforts afoot “all over” to bolster a Mr. Kennedy win over Mr. Biden in the primaries.
Ms. Gericke said that Mr. Kennedy has an “especially growing appeal” among Libertarians who typically vote Republican in the primaries—mostly because of his strong position against the government lockdowns during the pandemic.
“Not even Trump really took a strong position,” she said.
As a lifelong Independent voter who has always leaned conservative, Diana Lane told The Epoch Times she will for the first time be registering as a Democrat in a presidential primary so she can support Mr. Kennedy.
The mother of two said she has been forced to homeschool her two young children in Maine because of unyielding vaccine mandates in the state. She said she wants a candidate like Mr. Kennedy who recognizes people’s right to medical freedom.
While she does not like that Mr. Kennedy supports gun control and abortion, she said, she can live with those drawbacks in exchange for someone who is truthful with Americans.
She believes conservative voters like herself, who are concerned that President Donald Trump is too divisive, are looking at Mr. Kennedy as a necessity to win the primary to safeguard against another Mr. Biden term.
“I can’t trust anything coming out of the Biden White House,” she said, “Kennedy is the safety net really against four more years of that lack of trustworthiness.”