Nate Cohn writes at The New York Times:
Fifty years ago, the House Republicans still reflected the party’s 19th-century strength in the Northeast and Midwest. But the G.O.P.’s center of gravity has gradually drifted toward the South over the last few decades. Today, Republicans from the South, along with the reliably conservative interior West, vastly outnumber Republicans from the Northeast or Pacific Coast.
The infusion of red-state Republicans has transformed the politics of the Republican Party. Their growing clout has made it far harder for the party to compromise or avoid crises, like the so-called fiscal cliff, the 2013 government shutdown or the Planned Parenthood impasse of today
That’s because red-state Republicans are far more conservative than their blue-state counterparts. They have been far likelier to support aggressive tactics like government shutdowns than their blue-state colleagues.But as he has before, Cohn notes an important reason why the somewhat-conservative Republicans still matter:
The blue-state Republicans may be a distinct minority in the House, but they still possess the delegates, voters and resources to decide the party’s presidential nomination. In 2012, there were more Mitt Romney voters in California than in Texas, and in Chicago’s Cook County than in West Virginia. Over all, the states that voted for President Obama in 2012 hold 50 percent of the delegates to the Republican National Convention, even though they contain just 19 percent of Republican senators.
In the last two cycles, relatively moderate Republican candidates won the party’s nomination by sweeping the blue states. Mr. Romney and John McCain won every Obama state in the last two primary cycles, making it all but impossible for a conservative to win the nomination. Mr. Romney lost all but one red-state primary held before Rick Santorum dropped out.
The blue-state Republicans also have the advantage of superior financial resources. The blue states represented 62 percent of all Republican primary fund-raising in 2012.