April 2, 2012 |
“Doubts on Romney’s Conservatism Help Santorum in the South,” reads the ABC News headline from March 13. The headline would have you believe that Rick Santorum trounced Mitt Romney in the Alabama and Mississippi GOP primaries. It obscures the fact that Santorum beat Romney by just 44-39 percent in Alabama and 42-39 percent in Mississippi. In other words, nearly half of GOP primary voters in these states voted for Romney.
The headline not only obscures the kinds ofpolitical divisions that divide the rural and more liberal urban parts of the South; it also feeds into the idea that Southern conservatives vote primarily on “family values” issues, and takes it on good faith that Romney — who has moved awfully far to the Right during primary season – is somehow the more civilized, sane, humane and/or liberal of the two.
In January, CNN contributor John Avlon wrote about the ugly stereotypes about South Carolina that he saw as that state’s primaries kicked off: “You know, the characterization of South Carolina as a swamp of sleazy politics and brutal attack ads, a Bible belt bastion of rednecks and racism, a state defined by Bob Jones University. Sometimes these stereotypes are floated in political conversations as evidence of how ‘real’ the state is in determining the true feelings of the conservative base.”
Finally, someone dispelled the rumors and stereotypes about southerners.