Crossover voting is uncommon, even in Wisconsin’s wide-open primaries

In some states, only officially registered members are allowed to vote in a party’s primary. Not so in Wisconsin, which lacks any kind of party registration and where voters can choose to cast a ballot in whichever primary they please. They must pick only one, but all the party primaries—Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Green, etc.—are all printed on a single ballot.

The main argument for closed primaries is that they prevent crossover voting, particularly party raiding. Party raiding refers to members of a different party disingenuously casting ballots in another party’s primary, thereby thwarting the will of the target party’s actual members.

Despite these fears, existing research shows that crossover voting is uncommon. When it does happen, it’s usually “simply because [crossover voters] prefer those candidates to the candidates offered in their own party’s primary, or they view their own party primary as a foregone conclusion and want the best possible set of candidates to choose from in the general election.” Deliberate party raiding, almost never matters.

Wisconsin is a good place to measure crossover voting, since our election system offers no obstacles to voters doing this. Data from the Marquette Law School Poll is consistent with the existing research showing little-to-no meaningful amount of crossover voting. I last wrote about this in 2019. Here is an update.

Because there are so few crossover voters, I pooled several survey waves preceding each election to calculate the following statistics. I don’t include statistics from the 2022 primary because we didn’t intended primary participation in a comparable way.

The April 2016 primary vote in Wisconsin was still contested among both Democratic and Republican presidential hopefuls. In surveys leading up to that election, about 2% of self-identified Republicans and 3% of Democrats told us they planned to vote in the other party’s primary.

Similarly, the 2018 August partisan primary featured a competitive gubernatorial contest between Democrats and a contested Senate primary among Republicans. Less than 2% of the self-reported members of either party planned to crossover to the other party’s primary.

In both 2016 and 2018, the shares of each party planning to vote in the other primary were statistically indiscernible. That’s not true of 2020, when clearly more Republicans voted in the Democratic presidential primary than vice versa. This isn’t surprising, given that the Democratic presidential primary was competitive, while the Republican primary to renominate incumbent Donald Trump was a formality.

Across the six survey waves we fielded preceding the 2020 primary, we found that about 5% of Republicans planned to vote in the Democratic primary, compared to just 2% of Democrats planning to vote in the Republican primary.

plot showing the proportion of each party's voters planning to vote in the other party's primary

It would be a mistake to assume that these crossover voters are engaging in strategic “party raiding.” It’s more likely that the small numbers of voters who identify with one party but choose to switch primaries are expressing a sincere preference between the other party’s candidates.

In the graph below, I’ve pooled the responses across all three primaries, 2016, 2018, and 2020. For both Democrats and Republicans, I calculate their average self-described ideology on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is “very conservative” and 5 is “very liberal.”

Democrats who plan to vote in the Republican party are noticeably more conservative than Democrats who are staying in their own primary. Likewise, Republicans crossing to the Democratic party are less conservative than Republicans staying in their own primary.

The average self-reported ideology of Republican and Democratic primary crossover voters are so similar to each other that they are statistically indistinguishable in this sample.

plot showing the average self-reported ideology by preferred primary

In 2020, slightly more Republicans intended to be crossover voters than Democrats, presumably because the Democratic presidential primary was more interesting. Depending on the outcomes from the first series of state primaries, the situation may be reversed in 2024.

Continue ReadingCrossover voting is uncommon, even in Wisconsin’s wide-open primaries

Reruns? Should Biden or Trump run in 2024

Who wants a rerun in 2024?

A look at overall opinion shows that the public is not keen on either Biden or Trump running for president again in 2024. Of all registered voters interviewed in the November 2022 and January 2023 Marquette Law School Poll National surveys, 34% would like Biden to run and 29% would like Trump to run.


Among only registered voters who consider themselves Democrats or independents who lean Democrat, 49% would like Biden to run. Among registered voters who are Republican or independent but lean Republican, 53% would like Trump to run.

Table 2: Like Biden or Trump to run by party (including leaners)

Party, with leanersYesNo
Republican/Lean Republican1981
Democrat/Lean Democrat4951

Party, with leanersYesNo
Republican/Lean Republican5347
Democrat/Lean Democrat694

This even split in both parties comes despite generally favorable views of both Biden and Trump among registered voters of their party. Biden is viewed favorably by 82% of registered Democrats and Trump is viewed favorably by 68% of registered Republicans.

Table 3: Favorability ratings of Biden and Trump by party (including leaners)

Party, with leanersFavorable opinionUnfavorable opinionHaven’t heard enough
Republican/Lean Republican6931
Democrat/Lean Democrat82162

Party, with leanersFavorable opinionUnfavorable opinionHaven’t heard enough
Republican/Lean Republican68302
Democrat/Lean Democrat3961

While Democrats are more favorable to Biden than Republicans are to Trump, there is reluctance among Democrats for a Biden run in 2024 even among those with a favorable opinion of him, 57% of whom wish him to run. Among Republicans who are favorable to Trump there is higher support for a run, 72%.

Table 4: Like to run by favorablity by party (including leaners)

Favorable opinion5743
Unfavorable opinion1189

Favorable opinion7228
Unfavorable opinion1090

Strength of partisanship also plays a role with Democrats more supportive of a Biden candidacy than are independents who lean Democrat, and likewise for Trump among Republicans compared to independents who lean Republican.

Table 5: Like Biden and Trump to run in 2024 by party identification, among registered voters

Party IDYesNo
Lean Republican2179
Lean Democrat3268

Party IDYesNo
Lean Republican4159
Lean Democrat892

Among all registered voters, 42% say they would like neither Biden nor Trump to run in 2024, 28% would like Biden but not Trump to run and 24% would like Trump but not Biden. And only 5% would like to see a rerun of 2024.

Like Biden to runYesNo

About the Marquette Law School Poll

The Marquette Law School poll interviewed 1716 registered voters nationwide November 15-22, 2022 and January 9-20, 2023. The combined sample has a margin of error of +/-2.8 percentage points. The sample of 775 Democrats and independents who lean Democrat has a margin of error of +/-4.1 percentage points. The sample of 750 Republicans and independents who lean Republcian has a margin of error of +/-4.3 percentage points.

Continue ReadingReruns? Should Biden or Trump run in 2024

Polling of Trump and DeSantis and 2024

Nate Cohn has a look at widely varying polls on Trump 2024, including my @MULawPoll. Worth a read.

It is hard to get apples-to-apples comparisons. Different question (long list of candidates or DeSantis-Trump head-to-head), RVs or likely primary voters, Reps or Reps+Lean.

I’d also stress value of comparative favorability among Reps.

And comparison of ONE poll over time with same methodology each time removes noise due to multiple pollsters w varying methodology. This emphasizes trend change w most comparable data available

Favs in @MULawPoll national surveys:

Read more: Polling of Trump and DeSantis and 2024

Another trend for want Trump to run, and shows the difference between those who are more partisan Republicans and those independents who lean Rep. (How these are included or not also affects the cross-pollster comparison in Nate’s article.)

Here is a comparison of want Trump and want DeSantis to run by party ID for the latest, January 2023 @MULawPoll national poll (all these tweets are based on our national polls, not our Wisconsin only polls.)

I think the most revealing results we have in @MULawPoll is DeSantis is very appealing to PRO-TRUMP Republicans. His fav rating is strong with those Reps also fav to Trump & those Reps who want Trump to run. His threat to Trump is that he’s popular inside Trump’s house.

It is really important to stress we are watching a dynamic process as it unfolds, NOT predicting final outcomes. Trump is ramping up criticism of DeSantis. Does that change things in upcoming polls? When (if) DeSantis enters the race is another test.

There’s a long way to go.

Here is a link to Nate’s article in NYTimes today. By all means give it a read.

Continue ReadingPolling of Trump and DeSantis and 2024