Romney Fails to Connect to Voters Even in S.C.’s ‘Monied Burbs’
Just like that, the Republican presidential race feels changed. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich didn’t just win in South Carolina, he won everywhere across the state.
Looking at the results through Patchwork Nation’s demographic/geographic breakdown, Mr. Gingrich could not have done much better. There are five county types in South Carolina and Mr. Gingrich won them all – the wealthy Monied Burbs, the culturally conservative Evangelical Epicenters, the Military Bastions with many soldiers and veterans, the Boom Towns that grew rapidly in the last decade and the Minority Central counties with larger African-American populations.
In some ways, the numbers aren’t a shock. Going into the vote, most analysts talked about how different South Carolina is from New Hampshire where former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney did very well. Patchwork Nation noted that in New Hampshire some 61% of the population lives in Monied Burbs – places that had been good to Mr. Romney. In South Carolina, not even 10% lives in the Burbs.
But the size and scope of Mr. Romney’s loss across the state, even in the Monied Burbs, is something of a surprise.
In 2008, Sen. John McCain, the candidate of the Republican establishment, won both of South Carolina’s Monied Burb counties – Georgetown and Lexington – against former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the social conservative alternative. Mr. Romney had no such luck. He won only 31% of the vote in Georgetown and Lexington.
That number in particular might be troubling for Mr. Romney. It suggests that his problems with the electorate in South Carolina may have been about more than an inability to connect with culturally conservative Republicans.
Now it’s on to Florida, which suddenly looks to be a testing ground for Messrs. Romney and Gingrich.
On the surface and according to the conventional wisdom, Florida should be much better territory for Mr. Romney, again. The state is more moderate politically than South Carolina and more diverse. There is a much bigger Monied Burb population again – 26% of the state – and a much smaller set of Evangelical Epicenter communities – only 1%.
But so far the conventional wisdom in 2012 has not looked so wise. And if Mr. Romney has trouble in those Monied Burbs in Florida – places like Broward, Palm Beach, Martin and Pinellas – it may be a sign he will have much bigger problems ahead.