Personally, I never thought Rush had this much pull, but if we’re talking about 60,000 people here or 80,000 people there, it begins to make sense. Not a lot of voters are needed to really swing these things or make them closer than they would have been. And closing the gap even by 5% is important in this proportional delegate process the Dems have to slog through.

In any event, that’s the word from the Boston Globe:

For a party that loves to hate the Clintons, Republican voters have cast an awful lot of ballots lately for Senator Hillary Clinton: About 100,000 GOP loyalists voted for her in Ohio, 119,000 in Texas, and about 38,000 in Mississippi, exit polls show.

Spurred by conservative talk radio, GOP voters who say they would never back Clinton in a general election are voting for her now for strategic reasons: Some want to prolong her bitter nomination battle with Barack Obama, others believe she would be easier to beat than Obama in the fall, or they simply want to register objections to Obama.

“It’s as simple as, I don’t think McCain can beat Obama if Obama is the Democratic choice,” said Kyle Britt, 49, a Republican-leaning independent from Huntsville, Texas, who voted for Clinton in the March 4 primary. “I do believe Hillary can mobilize enough [anti-Clinton] people to keep her out of office.”

Britt, who works in financial services, said he is certain he will vote for McCain in November.

About 1,100 miles north, in Granville, Ohio, Ben Rader, a 66-year-old retired entrepreneur, said he voted for Clinton in Ohio’s primary to further confuse the Democratic race. “I’m pretty much tired of the Clintons, and to see her squirm for three or four months with Obama beating her up, it’s great, it’s wonderful,” he said. “It broke my heart, but I had to.”

Local Republican activists say stories like these abound in Texas, Ohio, and Mississippi, the three states where the recent surge in Republicans voting for Clinton was evident.

One thing’s for sure. In the networks’ exit polling of Dem races, they need to start asking Republicans if they plan on voting for the Dem they voted for in the general election. If the answer is no, then you know it’s most likely the Limbaugh effect.

Here’s how that may have effected Texas:

It is also possible, though perhaps unlikely, that enough strategically minded Republicans voted for Clinton in Texas to give her a crucial primary victory there: Clinton received roughly 119,000 GOP votes in Texas, according to exit polls, and she beat Obama by about 101,000 votes.

Will the pollsters start listening?

Politics Hillary Enjoying Limbaugh Effect?