Like a Strategerious

On “Super Tuesday”, Mitt Romney emerged the winner. Yet I heard some pundits commenting on his inability to win southern states. It’s true, Tuesday Romney lost Oklahoma and Tennessee to Rick Santorum, and Georgia to Newt Gingrich. But if you think this lack of a “Southern Strategy” is a problem for Romney, you’d be dead wrong.

The fact is, Romney’s lack of a “Southern Strategy” is a huge plus to his campaign, and the best strategy he could possibly have in the south is to ignore it completely, and have no strategy at all. After all, he can get to the necessary number of delegates to win the Republican nomination without ANY states in the south, and why bother with them anyway?

In the general election, the Republican party is going to carry the south. Most of those states (including my own state of Texas) are solid red states already. There are a lot of reasons for this, but it started when the Democratic Party backed the Civil Rights Act. The racist South, long a Democratic block, turned Republican instantly and never looked back. Add to that the large constituency of evangelicals and the NRA gun rights folks, and you have a solid block of people who will NEVER vote for President Obama, no matter who is running against him.

Thus, Romney need not waste energy on the south. In the general election, he wins those states without ever setting foot in them or spending one dime. What he must do is prove he can win the contested states: in the midwest, and on the east and west coasts. Once he has the nomination, and he will have it, he will need to focus all his energy on flipping some of those states that voted for President Obama in 2008 back to the Republican advantage.

There are a lot of tools the Republicans can do to achieve this, largely to do with voter suppression, and they are gaining ground. Killing ACORN, which helped organize and get out the African-American vote, was a big victory. Changing the rules in states to stop early and absentee voting is also helping. Discouraging young people from voting, as Ann Coulter did this week, is another tactic. But none of these have anything to do with southern states. Those states are already won, and smart Republicans know it.

Romney is doing exactly what he needs to do in the South, leaving it alone to focus on more important electoral battlegrounds. And his opponents are doing exactly what they need to do: crowing about their pyrrhic victories and losing the overall war, while whipping up the base so Romney can count on them in November. Some of them, like Gingrich, probably hope to parlay their delegates into some kind of breadcrumbs Romney might toss to them at the convention.

Meanwhile, southern Americans dance to the Republican tune and are seemingly loving every minute of it. Their own strategy, I guess, is to go on getting played.

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