Will Beck Help Romney Win Evangelical Voters?

Today, Michelle Goldberg writes at The Daily Beast that Beck’s newfound status as America’s first Mormon televangelist will benefit 2012 GOP Presidential contender Mitt Romney:

Beck’s ability to foster a Mormon alliance with evangelicals is very good news for Mitt Romney. The more Mormons and evangelicals team up in the cause of Christian nationalism, the more their political agreements will trump their theological differences.

I don’t think it’s that straightforward.

In some respects, Mormons and evangelical Christians have seemed like natural political allies from the 1950s to 2008’s Proposition 8. But there’s an even longer history of Christian anti-Mormonism, and our relationship has never been cozy. Beck wins with evangelical Christians because A) the sheer force of his media personality pulls them past their anti-Mormon hesitation, B) Beck is going negative on President Obama and his progressive Christian belief system, and C) Beck is a master of using highly nuanced Mormon rhetoric under the radar, holding his Mormon fans without alienating his evangelical audience.

It’s historian Jan Shipps (cited in Goldberg’s article) who gets it right: “It’s important to think about it this way: Beck is a convert. He knows how to talk the language of the Christian right, unlike Romney, who has been a Mormon all his life.”

Bingo. As I’ve argued here at RD:

A textbook example of the traditional Mormon man of steel and velvet is Mitt Romney, whose inability to connect with the Republican base may have as much to do with his lack of familiar jocularity and chest-thumping outrage as it does with the perceived weirdness of his Mormon beliefs. As a convert, Beck missed out on crucial early years of Mormon male socialization.

Will Beck help Romney? I’m thinking only Romney can help Romney. We’ll wait and see.