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RUSH: In exit polls in Virginia and Maryland last night, there were questions to voters about me and talk radio; ‘The Rush Limbaugh Effect,’ as dubbed by the Associated Press. But before we get to the sound bites illustrating this and the data behind the talk radio exit question… Because it puts to rest the whole myth that the Drive-Bys have been writing about and broadcasting about for the past two weeks. (doing McCain impression) ‘Talk radio’s dead! It’s on the wane. Its influence is gone.’ That’s what they hoped — and, by the way, the exit poll data indicate exactly what I’ve always said about you. You’re not mind-numbed robots. You make up your own minds. You listen for a whole bunch of reasons, but not to have your mind made up or influenced about political issues or votes or this kind of thing. But first, before we get to that: last night on Kudlow & Company on CNBC, your host, El Rushbo, was personally blamed for forestalling a market rebound. Larry Kudlow said to the guest, BMO Capital Markets’ Andy Busch, ‘Shouldn’t McCain do very well tonight in these primaries?’

BUSCH: He should rout Huckabee. Huckabee hangs on and continues to call and bring to the headlines all the conservatives who are against McCain; your Rush Limbaughs and so on. He’s providing fodder for the Democrats to go after McCain. We need that to stop for the Republicans if we’re going to get a bounce from the stock market.

RUSH: Oh, the pressure being brought to bear on your host! Stop criticizing McCain. Republicans need to unify or the market will not rebound. Andy Busch of BMO Capital Markets will need a job if I don’t get behind McCain! (laughter) Folks, can we agree just between us…? Don’t repeat this. Shh. Shhh! Don’t tell anybody. Has it not been brilliant how I have strategically inserted myself into this campaign at virtually every level? You know it and I know it. All right. FoxNews.com headlines: ‘Exit Polling Explains Obama’s Sweep in Virginia,’ ‘McCain Grappling with Conservative Doubt,’ and in this story, near the end: ‘Talk radio may be playing a big role. Sixty-two percent of Republicans said they frequently listen to conservative programs like Rush Limbaugh and Hannity and Ingraham and others. Many of those hosts don’t endorse McCain. Their fans seem to have followed suit, voting 48% for Huckabee; 38% for McCain.’ In the liberal Washington Post: ‘But even as he dominated the Potomac Primary, McCain lost conservatives in Virginia, as he has across the South and parts of the Midwest; trailing Huckabee among that group and evangelicals as he attempts to unite a fractured Republican Party behind his candidacy.’

Now, ‘McCain did not directly address his challenge among conservatives, but he said, ‘I will not confine myself to the comfort of speaking only to those who agree with me. I will make my case to all the people,” meaning (doing McCain impression), ‘I’m staying with the independents! I’m staying with the liberals. That’s my strength. Full speed ahead! Three-sixty!’ Robert D. Holzworth, a political science professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, said, ‘Conservatives have not been ready to put their imprimatur on McCain. Inevitability has not translated into affection, and that is a continuing challenge for him.’ He won by nine points in Virginia I think, 50-41. This guy Andy Busch of BMO Capital Markets in the audio sound bite here from the Kudlow show, he’s got a point. McCain should be smoking Huckabee. Huck doesn’t have a chance. He doesn’t even have a prayer. Well, he ‘majored in miracles.’ I take that back. He does have a prayer. But frankly, folks, McCain should be walking away with this now and unifying the party. It isn’t happening. The conservatives even knowing full well that they’re voting for a guy that’s not going to win the nomination. In fact, Romney and Ron Paul, the other guys got 9% of the vote last night; people that have no prayer, either. So it is a continuing problem for Senator McCain and the establishment.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: AP last night highlights of exit poll data in the Maryland and Virginia presidential primaries, and halfway down is this little paragraph that’s headlined with ‘The Rush Limbaugh Effect.’ Now, the AP is just one of many Drive-By news agencies writing of our wane and demise. Now: ‘The Rush Limbaugh Effect.’ They’re exit polling us, folks. ‘Republican voters in Virginia who said they frequently listened to conservative talk radio voted 51 percent for Huckabee, while non-listeners voted 57 percent for McCain. … [T]he more often people listened to a conservative talk radio, the less likely they were to vote for McCain.’ I wonder why. The Fox exit polls — it’s all the same thing — talk radio had an impact on the votes for Huckabee; 50% saying talk radio influenced the vote, and they went for Huckabee. Also a majority, 52%, said that McCain was not conservative enough. Now northern Virginia was not in at the time all this exit poll data came in. McCain was trailing Huckabee until northern Virginia came in and ended up winning it by nine points, but he should have smoked Huckabee last night in Virginia. But, you know, he’s having trouble winning conservatives in southern states, and the southern half of Virginia is very conservative and somewhat evangelical. The votes went to Huckabee.

Also, CNN exits: ‘Twenty-five percent of GOP voters are mildly or seriously dissatisfied with McCain.’ He lost those voters big time. ‘Nineteen percent of Republican voters think immigration is a big issue. Forty-four percent of those who voted favor the deportation model, and McCain lost those voters by over 20 points. Sixty percent of voters listen to conservative talk radio.’ McCain got whacked there. Now, ‘19% of Republican voters think immigration is a big issue,’ and some people might say ‘only’ 19, in front of that. That’s one out of five people. That is a serious issue when you have a national election. It’s probably a little bit higher than this in other parts of the country. This is just Virginia and Maryland. Now, since they’re exit polling me and talk radio, I’m wondering: Are they also exit polling what percentage of voters are influenced by Bill Kristol and David Brooks and some of the other McCainiacs in the establishment side of the Republican Party? It’s just a question. Let’s go to the audio sound bites. DNCTV here is explaining the exit poll. Now, I just gave you the exit poll data for Virginia. In Maryland it was somewhat different. Maryland is an odd state. Even the Republicans there are, in most of the state, pretty liberal, pretty moderate. DNCTV wanted to focus on the exit poll data regarding talk radio in Maryland. Here is the correspondent Norah O’Donnell.

O’DONNELL: This electorate enjoys listening to conservative talk radio. In fact, 62% say they listen at least occasionally. It’s a pretty interesting number, since conservative radio talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh have questioned McCain’s conservative credentials.

RUSH: Later on, Ms. O’Donnell returned to pronounce that in Maryland they’re listening, but they’re not doing as they’re told.

O’DONNELL: In their exit polls, we checked on whether these GOP voters listened to conservative talk radio, and in Maryland we found that 31% said they tune in frequently; 34% listen occasionally. That’s a pretty big audience from Maryland for talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham, uh, who have been saying that John McCain is not conservative enough. So we asked these voters if — if what they’re listening to is what they’re buying; and we found that among this very conservative electorate, less than half think he’s not conservative enough. Nearly the same percentage actually think he’s about right. So these numbers show that while these voters are listening, they may not be buying what they hear.

RUSH: So the template continues. The Drive-Bys’ definition of success, for me, is reflected by how many of my listeners do what I tell them to do; and I’m failing if they don’t follow me. (interruption) Right. I have a big audience in Massachusetts, a huge audience in San Francisco. What are they going to do? They’re dismissing half the voters by saying at CNN, ‘Well, they’re not following the marching orders.’ I just wanted you to hear this because it just establishes the template that the Drive-Bys cannot give up. Now, over on Fox, the newly engaged (as of New Year’s Eve) Megyn Kelly was handling the exit poll data reporting for the Fox News Channel last night, and she reports the Virginia numbers here but with a tidbit that O’Donnell on DNCTV left out.

KELLY: Most Virginia Republicans, 53%, say McCain is not conservative enough. Forty-one percent say he’s about right. Just 3% think McCain is too conservative. Talk radio, too, may be influencing this vote. This is fascinating. Sixty-two percent of GOP voters in Virginia say they listen often to conservative talk radio, programs like Rush Limbaugh. Now, those stars, as everyone knows, do not support John McCain — and neither, as it turns out, do their fans who went 48% for Huckabee, 38% for McCain. That’s in Virginia.

RUSH: Let’s also remind you that I have not endorsed Huckabee, and Huckabee got a majority of the talk radio vote last night. I haven’t endorsed him. I endorsed Obama a moment ago. (laughing) I’m going to scare people who didn’t hear that. It was a joke. But I didn’t endorse Huckabee. It’s important to point that out.

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