Yahoo - A few years ago, a rattled Republican party was convinced it had to remake itself in the image of younger, ethnically diverse voters, and Beth Fukumoto, a representative in Hawaii's House, emerged as a rising star in the party.
"Among Southerners, it wasn't an ideological switch, so they didn't have to pretend to be something they weren't," he says. "Socially, economically even, these individuals lined up closer to being Republicans."
But defections can also be major swings in direction. When it's time to cast final-passage votes on legislation, found a 2009 study by Texas Tech political science professor Timothy Nokken, party-switchers might not swing dramatically toward their new party's extreme, since they have a reputation to protect among voters. But on procedural and amendment votes, which are often highly partisan and highly consequential for a bill's shape and chances of passing, political converts are often zealous ones.