Trende talked about the shifting “priorities” of these voters, which could go a long way toward explaining why Cruz didn’t get the support he was looking for in the South. It’s not so much a question of those voters rejecting Constitutional conservatism, as their political priorities shifting to more immediate concerns.
They’re under attack by the federal government, and they want relief.
Intellectual discourse on the Constitutional basis for freedom of religious expression has less political value when the federal government is sending a battalion of lawyers to escort men into the women’s restroom. They still care about our future of unsustainable government debt, but their more immediate concern is getting the economy moving for their regions and income brackets again. Abstract discussion about the proper limits of government gives way to more concrete concerns: What will you do to bring the jobs back, nourish our wages back to health, and make us feel like something more than targets?That seems like a pretty good way to put it. Conservatives who caterwaul at how disappointed they are with the voters for choosing a populist over a 'Constitutional Conservative' come across as people who are entirely insulated from not just the world, but their own political party regulars. It's doubly weird since one of the common criticisms of Trump is 'he's a strongman!', as if Reagan was known for his calm, calculated reactions to political events, domestic and international.