Registered Democrats turned out to vote for Rick Santorum in the Michigan primary Tuesday, in order to prevent a win for the more moderate Mitt Romney. This interesting turn of events highlights the downside of having an "open primary," wherein residents may choose to vote in either the Republican or Democratic election irrespective of his/her party affiliation. Democrats in Michigan have chosen to rally behind Santorum because they believe he will be easier for President Barack Obama to beat in November's general election, mostly due to his unpopular, fringe positions on social issues. The past several weeks have seen a dramatic shift in the national polls, with Santorum having an unexpected amount of success and pushing past former Speaker Newt Gingrich as the top conservative contender. Tea Party Republicans and other conservative voters have expressed deep dissatisfaction with Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, due to his moderate record, constant flip-flopping, and his creation of a health care program in Massachusetts that was the basis for the much-maligned Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in March 2010.
Some Democrats have also worked to get out the vote for Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX). However, the Santorum campaign has shrewdly adapted to this technique, issuing robocalls to Democrats that urged them to get on board. Rick Santorum's participation in this movement has been understandably trashed by Romney's supporters. Saul Anuzis, a Michigan member of the Republican National Committee, complained: "This is no way for a person to act that wants to be the Republican nominee to take on President Obama in the fall." However, despite such sanctimonious comments, the choice to vote in another party's open primary is perfectly legal in Michigan. Twenty-two-year-old Lansing Democrat Brad O'Donnell hit the nail on the head: "The Michigan Republican Party made a big mistake by basically inviting Democrats to vote in their primary. Voting for Santorum was a no-brainer. The longer the primary goes on, the more time there will be to find some more skeletons on Mitt Romney." As long as open primaries exist, members of both parties will take advantage of a perfectly legal opportunity to sabotage their opponents.