"I don't think a lot of them are saying, 'I hope a rancher comes into my life'"

The cultural differences, more notable for the scarcity of policy distinctions among the Republican candidates, mirror divisions within the GOP electorate and even its dominant conservatives. On one side are the hard-liners, many of them religious, who embrace the “tea party” movement’s hostility to Washington and are more likely to lack college educations. On the other are the more secular and moderate, open to government action to protect the environment and regulate business and more likely to have attended college…

Ralph Reed, a longtime evangelical strategist, called the Houston rally “a defining moment” for Perry.

The Texas governor has already demonstrated a “level of comfort with the vernacular and values of evangelicals” that has “freed him up to focus on jobs and the economy,” Reed said. He “doesn’t have to go out and genuflect” to religious conservatives anymore. Indeed, Perry ignored social issues in his announcement speech and generally discussed them at campaign events only when asked…

“I don’t think the women in the Midwest, women in the West, necessarily bring to the election decision a favorable attitude toward Texas men,” Hill said. “I don’t think a lot of them are saying, ‘I hope a rancher comes into my life.'”