A political scientist thinks Democrats may have influenced the Republican primary in Missouri.

Election authorities prepare for Missouri's primary election

Election authorities prepare for Missouri’s primary election

In the contest for governor, well over twice as many votes were cast for GOP candidates than for Democrats.

Incumbent Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, who many thought would be the strongest general election candidate, placed third while Eric Greitens, a former Navy Seal who’s never held an elected office, won the GOP nomination.

Central Missouri University political scientist Robynn Kuhlmann thinks it’s very possible some Democrats may have selected Republican ballots at polling places specifically to vote for Greitens. She said “It’s quite possible that you might have some that would strategically choose to choose the worst candidate, they think, for the Republicans in the general election for governor”.

The national Democratic Governors Association also ran a negative ad specifically targeting Greitens, which Greitens promoted as proof he was the best Republican candidate.

Kuhlmann thinks the commercial may have been a Democratic ploy to motivate Republicans to vote for the perceived weakest candidate.  “I think it’s a possibility, a high possibility because they’re looking into the shadow of the future (thinking) ‘who’s going to be the easiest to beat’”

A similar tactic was employed by Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill when she ran a negative ad against Republican Todd Aiken, for the purpose of encouraging the party’s base to vote for him in the primary.

McCaskill handily defeating Aiken is the 2012 general election and stated that she chose her opponent.

This year’s Republican governor primary was a hotly contested race, with negative attack ads between the candidates running throughout the state.

Greitens will face current Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster in November’s general election.