McCain Expected to Take Arkansas

— -- While Arkansas is former President Bill Clinton's homestate, the Southern state typically votes Republican in presidential races.

McCain is expected to win Arkansas over Democrat Barack Obama, the nation's first African American major party presidential candidate vying to become the nation's first black Commander-in-Chief.

Native son former Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee won the GOP primary in Arkansas with 60 percent support, but it's McCain who is expected to take the state in November, according to ABC News' latest assessment.

Arkansas, the South's least populous state with less than three million people, is almost 80 percent white. Just under 50 percent of its residents are from rural areas that reliably lean Republican.

The state has a history of strained race relations.

In 1957 the Arkansas governor disobeyed an order desegregating Little Rock's all-white Central High School, prompting federal troops to have to enforce the order.

The images of nine black children being escorted to school in Arkansas under the protection of federal troops while being taunted by some white children, shook the world and invoked sympathy for America's civil rights movement.

Conservative political commentator Fred Barnes wrote in The Weekly Standard last week that had Obama chosen Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, as his running-mate, he might have increased his chances of winning Arkansas.

"Arkansas is inclined to vote Republican in presidential races unless there's a compelling reason not to. One of those reasons: a Clinton on the Democratic ticket. Without Clinton, Arkansas moves into the leaning (strongly) McCain camp," Barnes wrote.

However Obama plans to dispatch Bill Clinton to deliver his newly sharpened economic message to voters in battleground states in an effort to counter a surge in popularity for the McCain - Palin ticket.

Bill Clinton plans to hold regular campaign events in both rural and urban areas of swing states, including Ohio.

"We're putting him to work," Obama told reporters this past week before a lunch meeting with Clinton at the former president's foundation office in New York.

However Clinton's presence on the trail might help boost Obama's chances in Arkansas, which has six electoral votes up for grabs.