— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) September 8, 2015
So, I’d say this photo means Cruz has locked down the white rural Christian vote. And it is guaranteed to provoke lots of snark from the Daily Show, Gawker, et alia. But I’m not sure how helpful this shot is going to be in selling Cruz to suburban GOP primary voters. As TAC editor Daniel McCarthy writes in his piece dissecting Republican factionalism:
The Republican Party’s knack for nominating Bushes and Romneys and McCains has a reason, just as there are reasons why certain kinds of opponents catch on. Nate Cohn of the New York Times supplies a piece of the puzzle in a story headlined “The Surprising Power of Blue-State Republicans.” But there’s a deeper philosophical explanation for why the GOP perpetually fails to nominate another conservative like Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan—conservatism itself has lost its identity to politics.
The truth is that leaders like McCain, Romney, and the Bushes represent the GOP as a whole better than right-wing candidates do. Contrary to caricature, the GOP is not just the party of the South and relatively underpopulated states in the Midwest. Cohn’s headline calls the power of blue-state Republicans surprising, but it shouldn’t be: the majority of Americans live in blue states—that’s why Obama won the last two elections—and one would expect a national political party to draw a great proportion of its presidential delegates from the states where more Americans actually live.
McCarthy argues that Christian conservatives really are significantly different not only from generic Republican voters, but from mainstream conservatives. He doesn’t blame Christian conservatives for embracing candidates that espouse their vision, but he explains in detail why factionalism on the Right results in presidential nominees that most tolerate, but few love. McCarthy:
The mythology promulgated by the conservative movement has it that a candidate who naturally expresses both Christian conservatism and Goldwater-Reagan conservatism must be out there somewhere. But the record of three decades since Reagan won the nomination with support from both camps suggests otherwise: in a full generation, there has never been a candidate equally appealing to both kinds of conservative. What reason is there to think there ever will be one?
GOP voters who are passionate supporters of Kim Davis may well find that photo inspiring, and appreciate that a Republican presidential candidate stood by her in her hour of need. But I can easily imagine that — fair or not — in terms of its visual symbolism, that shot reminds suburban Republican voters, even some Christians, what they don’t like about the party and its direction.
UPDATE: But wait, there’s more:
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) September 8, 2015