Although it is overwhelmingly likely that Mitt Romney will win the GOP presidential nomination, he has thus far shown himself incapable of getting many votes in the South. What makes this particularly important is that the southern states make up the base of the Republican Party; without these states in November, it is unthinkable that any Republican could actually win. So far, with three primaries in this part of the country, Newt has won in Georgia and South Carolina, while Santorum won in Tennessee this week.

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The campaign moves into Mississippi and Alabama next, followed shortly by the Louisiana primary. It is doubtful that Mitt will win any of these three. His only hope in the first two is that Gingrich and Santorum split enough votes to allow Romney to win. In Louisiana, his hopes rest on two things: the powerful Jindal machine and the Catholic vote. But one way or another, no matter how poorly he fares in this region, he’ll get the nomination. The question then is does it matter in November if Romney isn’t a great vote-getter in the South? As Mitt said yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama, when he’s down here, ‘It’s a bit of an away game.’

One of the wondrous things about our two party system is that, sometimes, voters aren’t left with a choice where they clearly prefer one of the two candidates. This adversely affected the Democrats in 1988, 1992, 2000, and 2004.

It worked against McCain in 2008 as well. If we recall in that election, even though he had the nomination wrapped up, he still had a hard time doing well in the South’s late primaries, with Huckabee doing well. Then, in the general election campaign, McCain found very little enthusiasm during campaign rallies in this region. However, John won these states against Obama for two reasons. First is Obama. Most voters here couldn’t even comprehend voting for someone with the last name Obama; it probably didn’t help his vote getting ability that it was widely rumored down here that he was a Muslim who was born in some exotic land. Mitt has the same advantage so he’ll obviously win virtually all of the states in the region.

But McCain did a clever thing. He chose Sarah Palin for Vice President. No matter how abject a campaigner he was, no matter how clueless he appeared during the economic collapse, no matter how insistent he was in toeing the neo-con line, Sarah drew large, enthusiastic crowds. Because of her, McCain didn’t just win the states in the Deep South. There was a high turnout. Who cares?

Well, Republicans care. If the Democrats would have had a higher than normal turnout, and the GOP lower than normal, the Democrats would have won many more House seats and perhaps some Senate seats than they did. That’s what concerns Republicans about Mitt. If he wins the nomination, the campaign promises to be relatively unexciting with both sides cluttering airwaves with negative ads nonstop. So to keep from losing a number of the seats that were just won in 2010, Mitt may well have to nominate an exciting Veep choice. Right now, I don’t know who that could be.