Clinton, like Trump, makes play for voters of the opposite party

PHILADELPHIA — Talk about heartburn for diehard Bernie Sanders supporters.

On the night that Hillary Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination for president, her party featured two Republican speakers who talked about their intent to vote for Clinton this fall against Republican nominee Donald Trump.

A former White House aide to Ronald Reagan, Doug Elmets, and a health policy worker at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Jennifer Pierotti Lim, both told the convention hall of Democrats and a primetime national TV audience why they’re voting for Clinton.

Elmets said it was “a shock” to be speaking at the Democratic convention, but argued that Trump falls so far short of what’s required to be president that he felt duty bound to oppose him and support Clinton. He contrasted Trump with President Ronald Reagan.

“Reagan saw nuance. Trump sees the world as us vs. them, where somebody with brown skin or a foreign-sounding name is likely to blame for our troubles,” Elmets said. “Reagan knew that a leader needs diplomacy to steer a safe, prosperous course forward. Trump is a petulant, dangerously unbalanced reality star who will coddle tyrants and alienate allies.”

“While Hillary holds many policy positions that differ from my own, her qualifications are indisputable,” he said.

Clinton herself sought to win over Republicans in her acceptance speech Thursday night. She ran down a list of her priorities for governance, and then said, “Whatever party you belong to, or if you belong to no party at all — if you share these beliefs, this is your campaign.”

Other Democrats, too, are appealing to Republican voters. On Wednesday, President Obama made an implicit pitch to Republicans by arguing that Trump is not one of them.

“What we heard in Cleveland last week wasn’t particularly Republican, and it sure wasn’t conservative. What we heard was a deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other and turn away from the rest of the world,” Obama said.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who successfully ran for two terms as a Republican, spoke just before Obama, and noted that he has “supported elected officials from both sides of the aisle, and probably not many people in this room can say that.”

But Bloomberg said that while he doesn’t always agree with Democrats or with Clinton, he was putting aside any reservations about her candidacy to “unite around the candidate who can defeat a dangerous demagogue.”

Earlier in the week, over the first two days of the convention on Monday and Tuesday, Democrats focused their nightly speeches and programming on overcoming lingering bitterness among Sanders supporters. That unification effort was made harder when WikiLeaks released emails — obtained by hackers linked to Russia — showing that the Democratic National Committee worked to help Clinton beat Sanders.

Clinton has already reached out this year to Republican voters, most prominently in her speech last month, when she effectively clinched the nomination.

“Whether you supported me, or Sen. Sanders, or one of the Republicans, we all need to keep working toward a better, fairer, stronger America,” she said. “This election is not… about the same old fights between Democrats and Republicans. This election is different.”

Trump, meanwhile, has been trying to pick off Democratic voters of his own, appealing to Sanders supporters repeatedly in speeches.

This election, in fact, has a high potential for crossover voting both by traditionally Republican and by traditionally Democratic voters.

One study conducted by Deep Root Analytics found that about 9 percent of the voting population in the United States were Republicans leaning toward Clinton, a total of 16.2 million people. And they also found that 14 million people, about 8 percent of American voters, were Democrats who lean toward Trump.

The average “Reluctant Republican,” as Deep Root labeled them, is often a woman, or is of upper income or highly educated, and social conservatives also make up part of this group. The average “Disaffected Democrat” is a white male, on the lower end of the income and education scale.

Deep Root also found other indicators for each group. Republicans who might vote for Clinton were often veterans, investors, golfers, runners, nonfiction book purchasers and users of Twitter and LinkedIn.

Democrats who might vote for Trump, Deep Root determined, were often single parents, or parents with kids who have graduated from college but live at home, American history buffs, casino-goers, Sci-Fi fans, into fishing, and truck owners.

In swing states, these voters — who, Deep Root believes, would continue to vote the straight party line up and down the ballot except for president — could help determine the election.

North Carolina went for 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney by 92,000 votes, in a year when 4.5 million people voted in the state. And in 2008, Obama beat Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., by just 14,000 votes, with a total turnout of 4.3 million voters.

Deep Root found 266,220 Republicans who might lean toward Clinton, and 205,032 Democrats who might cross over to vote for Trump, just in the Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte areas.

So far, however, Clinton has an edge among high-profile party defectors. Several well-known Republican names have endorsed her, some driven by national security concerns, others by economic issues, and all to some degree by concerns about Trump’s temperament. Trump has not received any real equivalent support from well-known Democrats.

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign rally in Columbus, Ohio, on June 21, 2016. (Photo: Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters)
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign rally in Columbus, Ohio, on June 21, 2016. (Photo: Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters)

Democratic pollster Geoff Garin said part of the goal for Clinton is to have her “run more strongly among Democrats than Trump does among Republicans.”

“Even in the CNN poll on Monday that had Trump ahead, 25 percent of Republicans said they would not be proud to have Trump as president, compared to 16 percent of Democrats for Clinton,” Garin told Yahoo News. “And several polls have documented that a larger share of Republicans say that Trump lacks the qualifications and temperament. If events increase the focus on these considerations, or [if] people focus more on them when it dawns on them that Trump actually could be president, there will be the potential for people to peel off of Trump — either directly to Clinton or perhaps for [Gary] Johnson,” referring to the Libertarian governor of New Mexico, who is also running for president.

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