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Crossover voting

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Title: Crossover voting  
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Subject: Elections in the United States, Boundary delimitation, Anonymous elector, Midterm election, Elections by country
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Crossover voting

In primary elections in the United States, crossover voting refers to a behavior in which voters cast ballots for a party with which they are not traditionally affiliated.[1][2] Even in the instance of closed primary elections, in which voters are required to receive a ballot matching their own political party, crossover voting may still take place, but requires the additional step of voters to change their political affiliation ahead of the primary election.


The motives for crossover voting take on many forms. Crossover votes are often strategic, though not necessarily so.[3] It has been proposed that "mischievous" crossover voting is limited.[3][4]



Insurance-purposed crossovers occur when voters see the results of their own party's primary as a foregone conclusion; for example, a candidate belonging to their own party is greatly favored or running unopposed, so their best strategy is to cast a ballot for an opposing party. Two types of insurance-purposed crossover voters exist:

  • "Second Best"[3] voters cross over to vote for an opposing candidate they would prefer over other options in the opposing party, should their own party's candidate lose in the general election. They may be attempting to prevent a candidate they dislike in the opposing party from reaching the general election.
  • "Positive Strategic"[3] voters are unhappy their own party's leading candidate, and do not see their preferred alternative as viable. Thus, they cross over to vote for a candidate who they think will stand a chance in the general election.


"Raiders"[3] have the intention of sabotaging an opposing party's primary by voting for an opposing candidate they do not see as standing a chance against their preferred candidate.


In some instances, crossover voting may occur when voters feel the grass is greener on the other side. These crossover voters are referred to as "True Supporters",[3] and are not casting their votes for purposes of insurance or sabotage.

In some instances, crossover voting may also occur because no candidate registered with a voter's relevant party filed; therefore if they prefer not to abstain from voting, they must back a candidate from a party other than their own. This form of crossover voting has been referred to as "No Option".[5]


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