During the Republican primary—wait, is it still going on?—former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's failure to win a Southern state except Virginia (where his chief rivals were not on the ballot), and in particular his failure to win among evangelicals and "very conservative" Republicans, raised considerable doubts about the overall strength of his candidacy.
Let's dispense with the passive voice: I had considerable doubts about the overall strength of his candidacy in this regard.
To be sure, I never questioned whether Romney was going to win the South or a majority of the evangelical vote. Rather, it seemed to me, just a short while ago, that Romney was going to have difficulty motivating similarly-minded voters in non-Southern states to turn out for him in sufficient numbers and with sufficient intensity.
Recent Pew polling data, however, suggests this isn't the case. Romney wallops President Obama among white non-Hispanic evangelical weekly churchgoers 80-16. At First Things, Joseph Knippenberg observes, "In other words, the most religiously observant white evangelicals are more likely—indeed, significantly more likely—than their less observant brethren to say they're going to vote for Romney."
With the increasing population of Latinos in states like Virginia, Nevada, Colorado, and Arizona, the path to victory for both parties has shifted somewhat. But culturally, the electorate clearly has returned to its 2004 battle lines.
Much can change between now and November. There is renewed fear about a slowing recovery and sluggish jobs growth. But at this point, I have no other commentary to add. Mitt Romney is well on his way to shoring up his party’s base. I was wrong.