Although a lot of "big data" came pouring in tonight, nothing surprising happened. It's the same picture I've outlined in other posts and comments between east vs. west of the Mississippi River. (Use Google to search the site.)
That relates back to the work I started a couple years ago on how rooted people are in different parts of the country. For instance, what percent of residents were born in the state? Folks are more rooted in the oldest settled parts of the country, and shallowly rooted as you move westward, with the old Frontier still being a strong fault-line. Settlers of Texas were rootless and lawless transplants 150 years ago, and the churn of transplants has not abated since then.
The local and regional economy has also failed to materialize, due to these out-West states getting a much later start toward settlement, the settlers being motivated by get-rich-quick schemes rather than hard honest work, and a constant churn of residents moving on and new waves of transplants coming in. None of that leads toward the slow gradual build-up of industries into a mature state, but rather toward one form of exploitation or another -- resource extraction (oil, mining), crop cultivation (exploiting fertile soil which won't be so fertile after extensive cultivation), real estate hucksterism, lifestyle cult gurus, snake oil salesmen, business services of diverse sorts to fuel all this exploitation (banks, law firms), and on and on.
With shallow family and community roots, combined with a non-productive economy (perhaps half of which is virtual and speculative), people in the Plains and Mountain states feel insecure rather than stable in their situation. A profound disruption always feels like it's around the corner when you have little family networks to back you up, and where the economy is a house of cards. Deep-seated insecurity about the basics of life leads toward the apocalyptic mindset.
All you have to do is see evangelical preachers back East like Virginians Jerry Falwell Jr. and Pat Robertson interviewing Donald Trump -- they're so cheerful and at-ease, however much they may be worried about the direction of the nation. But an evangelical preacher from out West like Pastor Jeffress (Texas), who is also on board the Trump train, comes off as high-strung, pessimistic, and preparing for the apocalypse.
It doesn't have to take a supernatural form, though: plenty of apocalyptic people are preppers and paranoids who fear the federal government, the Federal Reserve, the United Nations, and so on and so forth, not as things they'd like to see reformed, but as existential threats that need to be extinguished.
The out-West paranoids do not want to take over Washington and institute their own distinct programs to replace what is currently going on there -- fundamentally, they want to send a group of martyrs to wipe it out altogether. For them, Cruz is to act as a kind of suicide bomber to take out the Senate, and perhaps Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court as well. He is not to take it over on his own behalf or on behalf of his constituents -- the federal government is felt to be so corrupted that it cannot be redeemed. Only its thorough extinction can allow the out-West preppers to breathe free and live as they please.
The vision of the Trump movement, by contrast, is to seize control of the federal government and then use it as an instrument to achieve our goals. Both the Cruz cult and the Trump army want to get rid of business as usual in Washington DC, but one side is depressive, pessimistic, and doom-minded -- nuke the whole thing -- while the other is basically cheerful, optimistic, and inclined to feel like the sky's the limit for how much good can be done once our side is in control.
There's more to say about these geographical differences, in another post. For now, it's enough to show how they explain the pattern in the primary results -- especially the part that puzzles many people, where both the Southerners and the Yankees are solid Trump supporters. Several Southern states went for Huckabee and Santorum during the last two cycles, but it turns out that they were attracted to the more populist tone and plans of these candidates, compared to the country club choices of McCain and Romney. Their evangelical message was icing on the cake, but not the driving factor.
It also explains why the out-West people have such a hard time comprehending what's going on back East -- real populism has always been weak where the reigning ethos was "get rich quick" and "I got mine, good luck to you getting yours" and "let the Devil take the hindmost". Their migration and residence choices are defined by refusing to be bound by duties and responsibilities to other people (family, friends, neighbors, fellow members of organizations). And those wide-open uncolonized niches out on the Frontier and beyond draw individualists rather than communitarians. Since there's nothing out there, there's nothing to conserve and steward, which is part of the plan of populism (public goods benefiting the common man).
Caring about the bottom layers of the class pyramid cuts directly against the striver mentality that prevails out West, especially among the suburban yuppie type who wants to live in a gated community. Back East, such caring is not a sanctimonious, holier-than-thou exercise akin to donating money to the Third World -- as though the working-class living in our area were The Other. Rather, They are part of Us, and if the bottom layers are doing awful, how can the entire group be doing well itself?
If your mindset treats people as like cells and organs within a single coordinated body, then having an increasingly destitute working class is a disgrace and needs restoring back to health. Only when your mindset walls off most other people from inclusion within Us, do you pay no mind to how the lower levels of the pyramid are doing.