A Southerner running for the Republican presidential nomination has a built-in electoral advantage over candidates from other areas of the country, and the party’s choice for 2012 also could hinge on
Southern primacy if a popular native emerges, FiveThirtyEight blogger Nate Silver writes in The New York Times
The contest so far has been notable for Southerners dropping out: Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
But if a strong regional candidate were to step up, Silver writes, the South’s well-documented preference for home-grown talent, and the region’s overall tendency to vote Republican in national contests, combine to give a viable Southerner an edge.
In theory, Georgians Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain, along with Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, could benefit from a regional solidarity that also impacts key contests elsewhere. A Southerner has won or placed second in every Iowa Republican presidential caucus since 1980, Silver notes.
But he contends that the GOP’s Southern effect would be more pronounced for two figures who already have said no: Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Both could tap into that region-wide base, Silver writes, in important primaries such as South Carolina while winning their own populous, delegate-rich home states. The Southern advantage is strong enough, Silver writes, to overcome a relatively late start.
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