This phrase seems to have two totally different meanings, depending on who you ask. On the one hand it means Republicans support Dean because he embraces some of their ideals (presumably fiscal conservatism?). The other meaning is that Republicans hope he wins, because he’s too far left as to be unelectable.
In searching to learn more about the topic, I came across this article which was pretty interesting.
Over the past few decades, the electorate has become much better educated. In 1960, only 22 percent of voters had been to college; now more than 52 percent have. As voters become more educated, they are more likely to be ideological and support the party that embraces their ideological label. As a result, the parties have polarized.
The conclusion of the article still suggests that moderates have the best chance of winning today, but one can only wonder if the parties will continue to polarize far enough that we end up with a true idealist in office – either a third party candidate or a far right- or left-winger.