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Charlie Crist joins the Democrats: What drives a political chameleon?

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In an interview after the election, Crist pointed to deliberate moves by Republican leaders, including Gov. Scott, to curtail early voting and voter registration efforts, which independent analysts have calculated led to a cumulative 20 percent decrease in early voting hours in some Florida counties.

“After I signed the executive order in [2008] expanding [early voting hours],” Crist told The Palm Beach Post last Sunday, “I heard from Republicans around the state who were bold enough to share it with me that, ‘You just gave the election to Barack Obama.’?”

Crist then added, “I assume they decided, ‘It’s 2011, Crist is gone, let’s give it a shot.' And that’s exactly what they did. And it is exactly what it turned out to be.”

Some conservatives, however, took a different lesson from Crist's decision, namely that the party should welcome the exodus of RINOs, or Republicans-in-name-only: "Crist has acted exactly the way that self-proclaimed moderates within the Republican party typically act," according to an entry on the conservative and widely read Red State blog. "They are willing to be Republicans until they lose a primary challenge and then they quit because 'the Republican party left me.' It also goes to the utter lack of principle that permeates many of our political organization."

But Crist's decision also comes after he tried for years to push Republicans to a more moderate stance – a fight he lost in 2010, both as he lost to a tea party-backed Republican – Marco Rubio – and the rightward turn of the national party as a whole.

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