Barbour’s “southern handicap” is overrated

“It is the case that a good number of New Hampshire Republicans see the national Republican Party as too Southern and too religiously conservative,” said University of New Hampshire political science professor Dante Scala. “I think that’s something that Barbour or any Southern Republican governor would have to contend with, but I don’t know that you look at Barbour necessarily and say that he’s a religious right candidate in the way you would perhaps with Mike Huckabee.”

Huckabee struggled to a distant third-place finish in the 2008 New Hampshire primary, just five days after his resounding victory in Iowa.

Still, Jimmy Carter’s victory in the 1976 New Hampshire primary and the strong second-place showing that then Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton achieved in 1992 prove that a thick Southern accent is not an insurmountable obstacle when it comes to winning over Yankee Republicans who may never have been to a megachurch or enjoyed a mint julep.