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Liberal Voters Turn Out in Attempt to Topple Romney in Michigan

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It may have been a Republican primary, but Democrat voters turned out in droves to vote for Rick Santorum in the Michigan primary, presumably attempting to topple Mitt Romney in his home state.

About 10 percent of the state’s primary voters on Tuesday were Democrats, exit polls show.  And they voted overwhelmingly for Santorum, with 53 percent picking the former senator versus the 17 percent who chose Romney.

Santorum actively courted Michigan’s Democrats on the eve of the most pivotal election of the GOP primary race to date, paying for robo-calls asking liberal voters to “send a loud message to Massachusetts' Mitt Romney by voting for Rick Santorum for president.”

The Santorum campaign said the call was intended to court “Reagan Democrats.”  But the Democratic voters that turned out were no such thing; more than half -- 57 percent -- identified themselves as “liberal."  Only 5 percent said they were conservative.

Santorum’s was not the only Democrat-targeting robo-call to hit Michigan’s phone lines on Tuesday.  A President Obama-supporting political consultant sent out a call at 5 p.m. reminding voters they only had three more hours to cast their ballots.

“Of course you want to vote for Rick Santorum,” the voice of Tony Trupiano said in the call.  “And make sure that vote is an embarrassment for Mitt Romney.”

And a blow to Romney it may have been.  Without the Democrats’ vote, Romney would likely have pulled an earlier and more substantial lead over Santorum in Michigan.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio