By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, April 7th, 2011
A new poll out of Mississippi finds that in a bastion of America's south, many Republican voters have tightly held onto the old, hateful views of race as a dividing line in society.
A full 46 percent of Mississippi Republicans said they believe interracial marriage should be illegal, according to the left-leaning survey group Public Policy Polling. Only 40 percent said they thought it should remain legal, with the rest unsure.
Republicans who said they were in favor of banning interracial marriages were most frequently supporters of Fox News contributor Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor (R) who quit half-way through her first term. Their least liked candidate was Mitt Romney, the former radio executive and Governor of Massachusetts (R).
Romney, Palin and Fox News employee Mike Huckabee are widely considered to be the top three most likely Republican front-runners. None of them have officially announced their candidacy.
The poll found that overall, Mississippi Republicans want Gov. Haley Barbour as their nominee over other potential candidates. Barbour won 37 percent of the survey's respondents, compared to 19 percent for Huckabee and 10 percent for former Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich, the one-time Republican Speaker of the House.
Barbour's popularity may have something to do with the mentality of his constituency in Mississippi. For instance, in a state where almost half of the Republicans believe interracial marriage should be illegal, Barbour has praised a civil rights-era group that fought against segregation and refused to denounce an effort to get a state license plate to honor a former leader of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan terrorist group.
Barbour was most recently in the headlines after it was revealed that he spent over $300,000 on out-of-state travel in 2010, campaigning with fellow Republicans and meeting with wealthy benefactors.