Ohio allows voters to choose which party’s primary they will vote in at the poll, and I’m considering pulling a Republican ballot tomorrow.  The Democratic primary does have two candidates vying for the nomination for Ohio’s 1st district in the U.S. Congress and the chance to go up against Steve Chabot in the November, but I don’t’ think either one of them can beat Chabot and I don’t really want to vote for either of them anyway. One is anti-choice, the other explains every issue position in terms of his own bizarre, strict constructionist view of the constitution and doesn’t seem to understand separation of church and state.

The question then is whether to vote for the candidate least likely to be a terrible president (Romney, assuming he governs closer to his record than to his campaign rhetoric), to cast a spoiler vote for the Republican who stands the least chance of beating Obama in November (Santorum), or to vote for Ron Paul to avoid voting for Romney while hoping to put Paul delegates at the convention to vote on the Party platform. The problem with the spoiler approach is that it assumes you’re right about who can beat Obama. Santorum seems much less likely to win a general election than Romney, but maybe he’s not. Maybe I’m wrong that there’s no way someone who is so virulently anti-gay, anti-woman, and such a religious extremist could swing enough middle of the road voters to win. Maybe his ability to fire up the GOP’s religious right base he could be a real threat. In 2000 I thought there was no way the American people would elect someone as obviously stupid and unqualified as George W. Bush. In 2004 I thought there was no way they would make the same mistake again.

I was wrong about these things because, like most people, I live in a bubble. I know the Republican positions, certainly well enough to reject them, but I don’t have a real handle on how the American public feels about them. Polls are one way to gauge how people outside our bubble feel and polls tend to show that the majority of Americans actually tend to disagree with the most conservative Republicans on social issues and especially on birth control. What the polls don’t show is how willing people are to get out to the polls and vote based on those issues and I think that many middle of the road voters just aren’t focused on social issues and will largely ignore them in November. On the other hand, when you have a candidate like Santorum who is making those issues so central and sounds so far out of the mainstream, maybe he’s gone past the tipping point with middle of the road voters and really is unelectable.

Which option will I choose? I don’t know yet. I probably won’t know until I get the ballot in my hand tomorrow. That is assuming that I can bring myself to select a Republican ballot at the poll.

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