Dixie, Fried

My new piece, reported while I was in the South, asks whether Mitt Romney will manage to win the GOP nomination while totally bombing out in the old Confederacy. He has won nine of 300 counties in the Deep South primaries so far. He is not favored in Mississippi or Alabama, though he’s trying hard. I don’t think I cracked a great mystery, but I collected all manner of theories as to why Romney’s flagging and whether conservatives will be depressed about it.

“There’s this perception that he’s not conservative, but you couldn’t have a man that’s more family-oriented than this man!” said Rep. Phil Roe, standing over to the side after Romney’s speech. Without any prodding, he started to talk about Romney’s Mormonism. “They don’t drink, smoke—I don’t know what they do for fun.”

A voter walked over to Roe to ask him something.

“Do Mormons drink any caffeine?”

“No, I don’t think they can drink caffeine,” said Roe. “These folks serve for two years. When they get out of college they give two years to their church. So I think it’s more of a perception. When you look into his heart and soul, he’s a conservative.”

Read on.