One commentator has compared Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton's popularity in the South, even with Bible-thumping, family-value social conservatives, to one of those country and western "somebody-done-somebody-wrong" songs with a happy ending. In this case, Bill and Hillary reunited and living happily ever after. She forgave him, so why shouldn't the voters?
There is no mistaking that Southern Democrats are standing by Governor Clinton. Last week, Georgia Democrats handed him a 59-23 percent victory over Paul Tsongas. This week, the Clinton-Tsongas showings were even more gratifying for the Arkansan: 68-19 in Tennessee, 66-18 in Texas, 69-11 in Louisiana and 74-7 in Mississippi. Only in Florida, whose population is getting more and more like the Middle West and Northeast as "transplants" pour in to work or retire, did Mr. Tsongas do better. And even there he got only 34 percent of the vote to Governor Clinton's 51 percent.
These have to be very troubling numbers for those supporting Mr. Tsongas' candidacy. Almost everyone agrees that without a decent showing in the South in November, the Democratic ticket will have little chance. Mr. Tsongas is being rejected by Southern voters to such a degree that he makes Michael Dukakis look good. Mr. Dukakis at least could raise money and speak Spanish. He got over a million votes in the 1988 primaries in Florida and Texas -- and still lost every state in the region in November. Mr. Tsongas got only 670,000.