From NPR…

Mitt Romney’s stilted efforts to relate to Dixie voters by tossing off a few “y’alls” and references to grits have been roundly mocked as awkward pandering.

And rightfully so, says political scientist Marvin King, who cringed at the GOP candidate’s sprinkling of vernacular and Southern stereotypes into his patter during appearances in Mississippi and Alabama. The two states hold their Republican presidential primaries Tuesday.

“You can tell Romney wasn’t expecting to campaign down here, and it shows,” says King of the University of Mississippi.

But despite Romney’s vaunted lack of on-the-trail naturalness, no matter the geographic region, he appears poised to do better than anyone might have expected in conservative territory seen as much friendlier to his GOP opponents.

“It would not surprise me if Romney took first here, and I think Mississippi and Alabama will go with the same person,” says Frank Corder, a council member in Pascagoula, Miss., and writer for the state politics blog Y’all Politics.

“And even if he gets second both here and in Alabama — that would speak volumes for his campaign,” Corder says.

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