Mitt Romney was dealt a walloping defeat last night in both Alabama and Mississippi, gaining only about 30 percent of the vote against his two competitors–winner Rick Santorum and runner up Newt Gingrich.
With all that, Romney still has twice the delegates of Santorum and three times the delegates of Gingrich, and is still seen as the likely nominee, although it may end up as a battle at the August Tampa Republican National Convention.
The problem is that Romney is perceived, particularly in the South, as not conservative enough, and overwhelming numbers of conservatives, Tea Party activists, and Evangelical Christians do not like, and were unwilling to support him. Romney has lost not just Alabama and Mississippi and Tennessee to Santorum, but also South Carolina and Georgia to Gingrich. The only “Old Confederate” Southern states he has won are Florida, which is unique in many respects, and Virginia, where he had only the competition of Ron Paul. Romney is not expected to win North Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana, or Texas, when those states vote in their primaries.
So the question arises: Can Mitt Romney, if he is the Republican nominee for President, carry the “Old Confederate” South? Will the conservatives, Tea Party, and Evangelical Christians get out there and organize and vote for him over Barack Obama?
Truthfully, low voter turnout, due to lack of enthusiasm, COULD cost Romney the election, if African Americans and Hispanics and Latinos come out in large numbers to vote, and are not prevented from voting by new voter ID laws.
These Republican groups will also have on their mind the reality that Mitt Romney is a Mormon, seen as a cult and non Christian by many Bible Belt types.
Is that worse than being an African American? In this unusual circumstance, an African American vs. a Mormon, an extremely unusual circumstance, who can honestly say what would happen?
The suspicion is that Obama could hold on in the states he won last time–Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida, but also would have a shot at winning Georgia and even Texas, if there is a low GOP voter turnout, and if Hispanics and Latinos, growing numbers in both states, vote in high percentages for Obama, again without prevention by Voter ID laws designed to cut their vote, as well as that of African Americans.
No matter how much other Southern states may feel that the Mormon Church is unacceptable, to believe that Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas would vote for an African American, would require one to hallucinate!
The good thing is that the five states Obama could win have 111 electoral votes, while the other six states certain to vote Republican have only 49 electoral votes!
Were Obama to win more than two thirds of the electoral votes of the “Old Confederate” South, that would be an amazing development and would insure, all by itself, that Obama would win an overwhelming electoral vote victory in November 2012!