There may be a much larger issue for the Republican Party than the obvious fact that Mitt Romney has yet to lock up the nomination.
After the primary results in Tennessee, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, it is becoming ever more evident that many conservatives do not believe Romney wholly represents their conservative values. They also know that if Romney gets the nomination, he will have to move even further away from them in order to be competitive against Barack Obama in the general election (and Romney already has a tag of “Obama-lite).
I can understand how nervous the GOP bluebloods are about how this in-house battle is playing out in the media. Much more serious, however, is that these primary results have exposed the expanding cracks in the Nixon-Reagan-Bush winning alliance of the old-money GOP with Southern conservatives.
Southern Republicans are relative newcomers to the GOP. They broke from the Democratic Party and – other than a brief hope for a third party under the likes of Strom Thurmond or George Wallace – had nowhere else to go but the “Party of Lincoln.”
Moreover, the GOP has never been able to get a firm grip on the tea party movement and now has to deal with Southern conservatives who are not falling in line for Romney. It will be interesting to see Romney move closer to the center if he gets the nomination – leaving many conservatives (who are already voting against him) out on a limb.