Rush Limbaugh has become the king of talk radio and used that position to affect presidential nominating process in both parties.
The Right Frequency, by Fred Lucas, published by History Publishing Co. details the historic impact that Limbaugh and other talk radio giants have had on presidential elections and other public policy matters, examining on air personalities such as Walter Winchell, Father Charles Coughlin, Bob Grant, James Dobson, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.
In 1996, after insurgent Pat Buchanan bested Bob Dole in the New Hampshire primary, Limbaugh hit the airwaves to say, “Pat Buchanan is not a conservative. He’s a populist. Pat Buchanan wants to engage in policies that expand the role of government in people’s lives.” Journalist Michael Barone, author of The Almanac of American Politics, told Limbaugh “You spoke out consistently against those things to the core audience that Buchanan was aiming at, and he failed completely.”
Four years later, when maverick John McCain beat the GOP establishment candidate George W. Bush in New Hampshire, Limbaugh warned the media are “love ’em and leave ’em liberals” and would abandon McCain if he is the Republican nominee. The National Annenberg Election Study found that post New Hampshire primary, listening to Limbaugh negatively affected the voters feelings about McCain. The Annenberg study also found that the impression Republican voters in Super Tuesday states had of McCain took a negative turn after listening to Limbaugh.
One would fully expect Limbaugh to hold sway in the GOP primaries, but in 2008 he interjected himself into the Democratic contest with “Operation Chaos,” in which he encouraged listeners to register as Democrats to vote in primaries for Hillary Clinton against Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination. The idea was to keep the battle going for as long as possible on the theory that a fractured Democratic Party would benefit John McCain in the general election. While this didn’t help McCain, several Obama supporters blamed Clinton victories on Limbaugh.
For more information on The Right Frequency, contact Don Bracken of History Publishing Co. at djb-at-historypublishingco-dot-com or at (845) 398-8161, or contact the author Fred Lucas at fredvlucas-at-gmail-dot-com or (703) 859-1836.