Mitt Romney's voters might not save the GOP after all

But in this cycle, education levels — generally an indicator of class — are pretty big differentiators. In particular, Ted Cruz is leading strongly with college-educated Evangelicals, while Cruz and Donald Trump are in a close battle for blue-collar Evangelicals. Brownstein views this competition as potentially decisive. Yet he also notes that Trump’s very best group among the four is blue-collar non-Evangelicals — the “opposite corner” of the party from Cruz’s stronghold, and a group that was part of Romney’s coalition in 2012. There’s really only one quadrant of primary voters that the Establishment candidates are (collectively) dominating, and that’s the college-educated non-Evangelicals. The important thing to understand is that there aren’t enough of them to control the nomination if another candidate is leading with the other three, which Trump, in particular, has a good chance of doing. Additionally, the voters in this quadrant will have even less influence than their numbers would indicate so long as they are divided among Rubio, Christie, Kasich, and Bush.

Perhaps at some point after New Hampshire all but one of these candidates will withdraw, but even then the survivor could face an uphill climb. Yes, said candidate will then consolidate an awful lot of elected official endorsements. This does not, however, seem to be a year in which Republican voters are anxiously waiting for elite signals to emerge from the Beltway and other power centers like white smoke from the Vatican to indicate when “the party decides.”