I think we're all bozos on this bus.
Jay Cost wrote an important piece last week regarding the divide within the Republican Party that has emerged during the primary process. He observed that conservative voters in northern states like Iowa and New Hampshire are much more sympathetic toward Mitt Romney's candidacy than those in the South, and concluded that "a geographical split among conservatives and Tea Partiers" was emerging in the GOP primary. He concluded, “This is geography, not ideology.”
I think Cost is right that the split is about something other than ideology. Romney’s vote share has tended to be consistent across ideological groups in each particular state, the opposite of what we’d expect if the divide were primarily ideological. In South Carolina, for example, Romney won 19 percent of very conservative voters, 30 percent of somewhat conservative voters, and 34 percent of moderate/liberal voters. That’s not a particularly huge divergence across the ideological spectrum. Similar trends have popped up in other primary/caucus states.
But I think there’s more going on here than just geography. Demography is implicated as well. Harry Enten, an up-and-coming election analyst, observed late Saturday night that you could explain Romney’s vote share in each state just by looking at the evangelical vote in that state’s primary electorate.