Primaries cater to the fringes, but for a general election, a candidate must be more than a political cheerleader for a particular ideology. The former Utah governor could bridge that divide.
Image credit: AP
Gradually, the dynamic in Republican politics has changed.
As is often the case in party primaries, in which candidates are judged not by a cross-section of the electorate but by those for whom any sign of compromise is unacceptable, the battle is for the hearts and minds of voters on the edges of the political world. This catering to the fringes -- a primary-election reality for both Democrats and Republicans -- produces candidates who mesh well with an unrepresentative base but either cannot appeal to a broader base or, if actually elected, may find it difficult to successfully govern in a large and diverse nation.
To a large extent, the Republican primary has played out as that typical outreach to the outer edges. It has been a campaign not for the presidency but for the nomination. But it now turns out that the Democrat in the White House isn't doing very well and a Republican might not just win his party's nomination but might actually be called upon to be President of the United States. That is a very different thing.