Over at The New York Times, Ashley Parker and Jonathan Martin take a look at the Chick-fil-A belt, an area covering thousands of miles of Southern suburbs and exurbs where new residents have little connection to the politics of the past. That hurts incumbents like Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who could once count on the projects and federal money they brought home to their states for political points.
The newly built communities where these new residents live — Parker and Martin point to DeSoto County, Miss., and Henrico, Hanover and Chesterfield Counties, Va. — are proving political minefields for members like Cochran and Cantor. They each lost those areas in primary elections this month. As residents migrate from one region to another, especially in their older years and especially from Rust Belt states to Sun Belt states, politics is increasingly national, and decreasingly local.
Naturally, that got us thinking: How can we map the Chick-fil-A belt? Here’s where the company has outposts, according to its Web site:
The new residents “don’t know who the heck Thad is,” Karl Rove told Parker and Martin. “There is no 40-year history with him, knowing that this is the guy who built up the state’s modern Republican Party. The same with Eric, people who have just gotten to Richmond don’t even know what the House of Delegates is, let alone that he served there.”
The lesson for Republicans running in primary elections: No matter how long you’ve served, your accomplishments for constituents back home matter little. It’s what you’ve done about the Affordable Care Act, or some other way to oppose the Obama administration, that counts to primary voters. Especially if you hope to represent a district with a Chick-fil-A.