SOUTHERN FRIED ELECTION NEWS UPDATE. A new Rasmussen poll shows Hillary Clinton has a pretty remarkable 20-point lead over both Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson in -- wait for it -- Arkansas. The poll also shows Clinton has a 65 percent favorability rating in the state. Of course, it doesn't hurt that she was the former first lady in the Arkansas governor's mansion, but this is still pretty impressive. Despite all the Hillary-resentment around the country, it's notable that at least one southern state seems to be completely behind her.

Another recent poll shows Clinton slightly edging out Barack Obama in South Carolina, but as Eric Kleefeld notes, these results hinge on race. Obama currently has the support of 55 percent of black Democrats in the state -- who make up about half of SC Democratic primary voters -- but the poll's respondents were only 40 percent African American. If that number were higher, Obama could be slightly in the lead. Who actually wins the state will depend on a) how high the black turnout is on election day, and b) whether more black voters give their support to Obama or return to Clinton, who also has a lot of support among African Americans.

In John Edwards news, while critiquing David Brooks' latest somewhat contradictory column, Matthew Yglesias writes that "one of the strongest parts of the Case for Edwards" is the following: "out of his mouth, totally banal phrases strike many people as culturally conservative." I'd also add that when they come out of Edwards' mouth, rather liberal economic policies sound relatively mainstream and common-sensical. Both of these facts are due to some unfortunate realities of racism and regionalism in American culture: Edwards inherently sounds less liberal not only because he's the white candidate, but specifically because he's the Southern white candidate. That little twang moderates or even conservatizes views just as liberal (or more liberal than) Clinton and Obama's policy proposals.

--Steven White