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Romney Supporters May Not Save the GOP From Trump, Cruz Nominee

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Thursday, 21 Jan 2016 11:54 AM

Are Mitt Romney's die-hard supporters capable of rallying and "saving" the Republican Party from the specter of Donald Trump or Ted Cruz as the GOP's presidential nominee?

Probably not, writes Ed Kilgore, a political reporter for New York Magazine.

"This does not … seem to be a year in which Republican voters are anxiously waiting for elite signals to emerge from the Beltway and other power centers like white smoke from the Vatican to indicate when 'the party decides,'" Kilgore writes.

"The class-warfare element that Trump has introduced into the Republican nominating contest means that the non-Evangelicals who united to smite Rick Santorum and anoint Mitt Romney in 2012 may be divided. And that could be bad, bad news for the Establishment and its sleeping habits."

Kilgore says "the bedtime story that 'Establishment' Republicans read to themselves after days dominated by the likes of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz is that once the nominating contest gets by the Bible-obsessed precincts of Iowa and the Deep South, whichever candidate emerges in the 'moderate' lane will win, just like Mitt Romney did in 2012 after Rick Santorum threw him a scare for a bit."

But he adds that a new analysis of the GOP primary electorate by the National Journal's Ron Brownstein "should keep some Republicans awake with night terrors."

"Using 2008, 2012, and current polling data, Brownstein divides the Republican electorate into four roughly equal groups divided by religion and education: college-educated Evangelicals and non-Evangelicals, and non-college-educated Evangelicals and non-Evangelicals," Kilgore writes.

In the last two cycles, [Brownstein] says, educational levels weren't that important in determining candidate preference: Both in 2008 and 2012, there was no ma­jor dif­fer­ence in the vot­ing choices of blue and white-col­lar evan­gel­ic­al Chris­ti­ans across the key states, ac­cord­ing to pre­vi­ously un­pub­lished res­ults from the exit polls in those years provided by Edis­on Re­search, which con­ducts the sur­veys.

"The big­ger di­vide was between voters who were and were not evan­gel­ic­al: Rom­ney, for in­stance, won about half of the former, but just un­der one-third of the lat­ter, ac­cord­ing to a cu­mu­lat­ive ana­lys­is of 2012 exit polls con­duc­ted by ABC Poll­ster Gary Langer."

But Kilgore argues that in this cycle, "education levels — generally an indicator of class — are pretty big differentiators."

"In particular, Ted Cruz is leading strongly with college-educated Evangelicals, while Cruz and Donald Trump are in a close battle for blue-collar Evangelicals. Brownstein views this competition as potentially decisive. Yet he also notes that Trump's very best group among the four is blue-collar non-Evangelicals — the 'opposite corner' of the party from Cruz's stronghold, and a group that was part of Romney's coalition in 2012.

"There's really only one quadrant of primary voters that the Establishment candidates are (collectively) dominating, and that's the college-educated non-Evangelicals. The important thing to understand is that there aren't enough of them to control the nomination if another candidate is leading with the other three, which Trump, in particular, has a good chance of doing."

In addition, Kilgore writes, voters in this quadrant will have "even less influence than their numbers would indicate" as long as they are split among Sen. Marco Rubio, New Jersey Gov. Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

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Are Mitt Romney's die-hard supporters capable of rallying and "saving" the Republican Party from the specter of Donald Trump or Ted Cruz as the GOP's presidential nominee?
Mitt Romney, Voters, Save, GOP, Trump, Cruz
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Thursday, 21 Jan 2016 11:54 AM
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