Rush Limbaugh, conservative talk radio show host, told his listeners on Monday, May 5, 2008, that Democratic Party officials in Indiana are trying to intimidate Republican voters with monitors at the polls. So he issued these orders: "So here are today's orders for Indiana Operation Chaos operatives. Flood these precincts. Vote for Mrs. Clinton as an act of defiance against these police state tactics as a form of protest. Indiana Democrat pooh-bahs do not get to intimidate us. They don't get to tell us how to vote and attempt to change the rules in the end of the game. I'm not in favor of these open primaries, but if they're open, then they're open. "
Hillary Clinton won the Indiana primary by approximately two percentage points last night and almost immediately, Barack Obama's campaign sent out an email titled, "The Limbaugh Effect in Indiana = 7 percent", assigning blame to Limbaugh for Obama's loss.
This was just latest in what Limbaugh calls "Operation Chaos" in which he wants Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton so that the Democratic contest will not end and they continue to battle each other.
Rush Limbaugh considers that to be his own little soap opera.
Last night, after the Indiana primary, Barack Obama's campaign issued an email, titled, “The Limbaugh Effect in Indiana = 7 percent”, in which the Obama spokesman, Bill Burton wrote, "According to the latest exit polling data, 17 percent of voters in the Indiana primary today said they would vote for John McCain in a Clinton/McCain match-up. Forty-one percent of that number is constituted by people who voted Clinton in the primary but also indicated they will vote for McCain in the general election. That comes out to just under 7 percent of the primary electorate the number that may be attributed to a Limbaugh Effect.”
Rush Limbaugh went on Fox News on Tuesday night and his amusement was evident.
"I see the Obama campaign is saying Operation Chaos accounted for a 7-point bump for Hillary in Indiana. I think they are just jealous that I out-organized them,” Limbaugh told FOX News Tuesday night. “I am extremely proud of Operation Chaos volunteers. I never doubted they would triumph and it is a delight to see.”
Whether it was the "Limbaugh Effect" as the Obama campaign claims or whether it was just individual Republican voters who would prefer to see Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama continue to fight their way to the August Democratic convention, a large group of Republicans did cross over and vote in the Democratic primary in Indiana.
Results of the Indiana exit poll found that that 17 percent of primary voters said they would vote for Republican John McCain over Clinton in the general election. And 41 percent of those voters still cast a vote for Hillary in the primary.
David Axelrod, Obama's top strategist, agrees with the assessment that Rush Limbaugh and his "Operation Chaos" would be responsible if Hillary Clinton won in Indiana, according to the Wall Street Journal to which he spoke to before the results were tallied, saying, "If we come up short, they ought to call a press conference tomorrow and thank Rush Limbaugh for the victory."
Even other Obama supporters, such as John Kerry, gives Rush Limbaugh the credit for Obama's loss, saying, "If it hadn't been for Republicans taking Democratic ballots, he likely would have won in Indiana. Rush Limbaugh was tampering with the primary and the GOP has clearly declared they want Clinton as a candidate."
There is no doubt that there was a high cross over vote of Republicans voting in the open primary for Indiana, which was reported last night by the Indystar. According to Boston.com's Political Intelligence, in one of their updates from last night, the Indiana exit polls showed, "Limbaugh's impact appears muted".
The question we are left with after all this is, "Did Rush Limbaugh really have an impact on the Democratic Indiana primaries or did conservatives Indiana voters simply determine that they would rather see Hillary Clinton matched up against John McCain in November rather than Barack Obama?
Does Rush Limbaugh have enough influence to turn the tide of a Democratic primary?