The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Friday, February 04, 2005
 

How The South Was Won - the full SP


On January 12, I linked to the etext of the 2002 The Rise of Southern Republicans by Merle and Earl Black as the most promising online source (I had found) of an explanation of the process whereby the (fairly) solid South, that voted for Kennedy in 1960 [1] and sent a 100% Democrat delegation to the US Senate in January 1961, lost that Dem mojo.

Having got through most of it, my confidence is fully born out. The story hangs together - and the supporting facts are there in profusion [2].

Thus, when the Democrats adopted their own Southern strategy and decided to cut the South loose by pushing what became the Civil Rights Act of 1964, nothing much happened: like the cartoon character who runs off a cliff and only falls when he realises he's standing on air, the South stayed solid.

There was the JFK Memorial/local boy vote in 1964; and there were sound reasons why Dem Congressional incumbents should keep their seats (committee assignments based on seniority; a Dem president with Great Society goodies to salve the racial wounds).

Presidential voters have been much easier to move than Congressional: both Hoover and Eisenhower desolidified the Upper South for their own benefit, but they had no coat-tails in Dixie. Party affiliation dies hard, and rules more on Congressional picks. The lack of GOP money and the organisation it might buy long held back Congressional results behind those scored by Nixon and Reagan/Bush I.

And as Southern whites defected, Southern blacks registered and were as solidly Democrat as their white neighbours had been thirty years before. Except in lily white areas, GOP candidates needed a supermajority of whites to counter the weight of sure black Dem votes.

Then came 1992 and the aggressive racial gerrymanders: GOP pols gave enthusiastic support to giving the blacks sure-thing districts, leaving white Dems far more vulnerable to GOP attack without their banker black votes.

The citadel of Confederate Dems was Texas, under the 1990 census Democratic gerrymander. And that's gone.

In the 109th Congress, out of 131 House seats from the Confederacy, the Republicans have 82, a majority of 33 over the Dems. (And that includes the grotesque [3] Democratic gerrymander of Georgia, which may not last beyond the decade.)

The extent to which the Blacks' explanation can be faulted, I know not. It is a story that hangs together, though - which I had previously not had. So, thus far, at least, it's mission accomplished.

  1. Of the Confederacy, only FL/TN/VA defected.

  2. I quibble over their giving electoral details in the body of the text - where it takes longer and is harder to read than the same data in tabular form. But it's good and it's free...

  3. Judging by the shapes of the districts.


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