So Santorum won in Mississippi; no surprise there. Having been raised in Sunflower County, MS (which I refer to as the deepest part of the Deep South), I just had to look at Nate Silver's chart of real-time county by county primary election reports; at first I wasn't able to explain what I saw, for anyone truly familiar with Mississippi would see at a glance that most of the counties with majority black populations went for Mitt Romney! My own Sunflower County is 71 percent black, and despite the fact that Santorum has won the state, Romney won my county by over 16 percent. In 69 percent black Hinds County, home of the state capital, Jackson, Romney won by 13.5 percent. Now why is this the case, especially given the fact that Romney is not only about as white-bread as it gets, but also that blacks weren't even allowed to become Mormon priests (or is it preachers) until 1978?
First of all, 98 percent of the votes cast in the Mississippi Republican primary were cast by white voters. One percent were cast by blacks, one percent by other. This is despite the fact that it was an open primary; Democrats could vote in the Republican primary, too, and the state as a whole is 37 percent black.
So the blacks by and large weren't voting, which is in and of itself no big surprise. But that begs the question then: why is it that Romney consistently won in majority black counties where the blacks weren't voting, but consistently lost in majority white counties were the blacks also weren't voting? The minority vote in the Mississippi Republican primary was not a factor at all, so why did Romney win decisively in majority black counties, but got trounced in majority white counties?
Now some might see this as a matter of Mississippi's great racial divide; remember, this is the state where just last year, a poll showed that 46 percent of Republicans still thought interracial marriage should be banned. But in this case, as strange as it seems, racism is only indirectly responsible. Back in the 2008 election, Mississippi went for McCain, of course, but if one looks at the county by county results and compares them to the 2012 Republican primary, the similarities are obvious.