Fred Thompson hit his expiration date in South Carolina but may have managed to cook Mike Huckabee's goose in the process as John Edwards, after fizzling in Nevada, is in danger of becoming toast without a strong showing in South Carolina next weekend.
So much for culinary clichés, but the Presidential buffet is definitely losing its down-home flavor--no drawls or twangs in the next White House, if you don't count possible First Spouse Bill Clinton.
The Republicans' well-established Southern strategy has been derailed by the Thompson-Huckabee collision and faces a severe test in November against the appeal of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama to African-American voters.
In the long arc from the Democrats' Solid South more than half a century ago to the GOP's recent coalition of cultural conservatives, there has been a degree of unanimity that looks unlikely this year.
By nominating a McCain, Romney or Giuliani, Republicans will face fallout that won't be papered over by late conversions on abortion, immigration and gay rights or a Southern running mate on the ticket.
This November, red and blue states may form a checkered pattern all across the electoral map.