The democrats losing the south from a realpolitik perspective

When LBJ signed civil rights legislation he told Bill Moyers ‘We’ve just handed the South over to the republicans for a generation’. Its actually been 2 generations and counting. Southern whites, who were once one of the biggest supporters of democrats (they were part of FDR’s new deal coalition which was needed to pass progressive legislation in the 30s and 40s), turned GOP. Now southern whites vote GOP roughly 60-90% of the time. This was, from my impression, seen as a major loss for the democratic party. Losing the south meant losing tons of congressmen and electoral votes for presidential elections. People like Paul Krugman talk about how w/o this defection of southern whites, the GOP would have little real power to affect the US’s direction.

However, black voters were registered and became heavily democratic, voting democratic 9-1.

The Southernization of the GOP also has alienated many moderates which has pushed the northeast and west coast in a more liberal direction. As of the 111th congress, of the 26 senators in the South and 19 are GOP. But of the west coast and northeast (including Pennsylvania, NY & NJ), 21 out of 24 senators are democratic or caucus with the democrats. That is including Specter.

Black voters make up roughly 10-15% of the electorate in many important states, which because of the 9-1 voting ratio results in a huge net gain in important states when it comes to presidential elections. If not for the massive support from black voters (who in part are rebelling against the direction the GOP took after they became the party of southern whites) states like California, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Maryland & Ohio would not be solidly democratic or swing states. They’d (if you just went by white votes) be states that were far more conservative than they are now. If you add up the electoral votes in the 13 southern states is 168 votes. But the list of states which are democratic because of black votes adds up to 202 votes.

So the dems lost 168 votes, but gained either solid margins or swing state status in 202 votes (I’m counting Florida in both situations). Plus NC, TX and VA may be reaching swing state status. In part due to the black vote.

Plus democrats from the south tend to be more conservative fiscally and socially. And republicans from the northeast tend to be more liberal. So losing southern dems in exchange for gaining dems in the northeast is a good trade. Losing Zell Miller in exchange for Sheldon Whitehouse or Bernie Sanders is a pretty good bargain.

All in all, it worked out pretty well from a strictly realpolitik point of view. The dems lost tons of electoral votes in the south due to defections from white voters, but gained tons of electoral votes in the midwest, northeast and west coast due to higher support from black voters. Plus by abandoning the more conservative democrats to the GOP, the democratic party was more free to act like a democratic party (fiscally, foreign policy wise and socially) since its base was more heavily based on the northeast and west coast rather than the south.

Plus the southern strategy has backfired. White Christian heterosexuals who oppose government are rapidly becoming the minority in the US, and they aren’t sharing their party with anyone.

I don’t completely buy it. Jimmy Carter took the entire south sans Virginia only slightly more than a decade after the civil rights act. And Bill Clinton took more than half the southern states twice.

And whats this I’ve been hearing about Texas becoming a swing state? Texas went for the Republican in the last 8 presidential elections, usually with percentages in the mid-upper fifties and even low 60’s. those are landslide numbers.

Carter and Clinton were both Southern governors, so they had an advantage.

Just alluded to in the OP (which I agree with) is that the policies keeping southern white voters in the GOP are alienating Latino voters. I don’t think Texas is a swing state just yet, but if it becomes one it will be due to anti-immigration policies.

McCain was a lousy candidate who lost the race pretty bluntly yet took Texas by 12 points. Can you show me any numbers that evidence Texas turning into a swing state?

Take a look at the last 2 mayoral races in Houston and Dallas. Electing a lesbian mayor in the largest city in the state (Houston). Almost electing a gay candidate as mayor of Dallas?

The Democratic party is disorganized in Texas. Still, Rick Perry squeaked out a victory in a 3 way race against a no budget Democrat and a novelty candidate in Kinky Friedman.

If Bill White can run a decent campaign, he might have a chance in a one on one race against Rick Perry.

Bill White

Perry lined up his support with teabaggers with his support of succession. He’ll probably win the Republican primary, but this could be an interesting race.

The Democrats have been trying to kick the Latino sleeping giant awake for a long time. If Perry (or any other Republican) pulls a Pete Wilson, then the Republicans could make Texas a swing state very quickly.

[quote=“dalej42, post:5, topic:522255”]

The thing is, these types of elections, even the ones for Governor, are usually not equatable to Presidential elections. The turn out demographics and the overall dynamics are different. I do not see Texas flipping to being a blue state in 2012.

Yes, there is a difference, but you seem to have it backwards. The generational and class demographics being what they are – that is, younger and poorer voters being both more Dem-leaning and less likely to vote in the midterms compared to older, richer, and/or whiter voters – I daresay you can count on a better Pub showing in the midterm than in a presidential year.

Except for Humphrey getting Texas in 1968, no northern Democrat since 1964 has won a single electoral vote in the old Confederacy since then and until Obama. Carter and Clinton were aberrations because they were southerners.

Although before Obama, no Democrat won the presidential election other than Carter and Clinton, and McGovern, Mondale, and Dukakis at least didn’t have much support outside the South either (Kerry and Gore did). So, it might just be that the Democrats didn’t pick popular candidates for most of those elections.

Perhaps I was being too subtle by saying just yet. I agree that it won’t happen in 2012. But the demographics are impossible to ignore. If they stay on their current course, the Republicans are going to lose Texas some day

Cities have been slowly getting more progressive, but the outliers area are deep republican . The southern states are red seas with blue islands.

As is the rest of the country, really.

See this map, broken down by county: The main urban centers are solid blue, the least-populous rural hinterlands are solid red, and everything between is various shades of purple.

Right, but that’s true in north as well as south.

The democrats lost texas in 2008 by 1 million votes. There was a lot more info in the run up to the 2008 election about its status as a swing state, and I’m having trouble digging it up now.

The argument is that Texas has lower voter registration among blacks, latinos and youth vs more conservative whites and that a serious voter registration effort in TX alone could push it closer to swing state status by adding a few hundred thousand democratic voters. But failing that, demographic changes involving more immigration from northern states, combined with growing black & latino voters combined with the dying off of the elderly (who are more GOP) will push it closer towards swing state status in 2012 or 2016.

I’m not aware that there are any white Christian heterosexuals who oppose government.

The idea is Texas is particularly affected by continued immigration of Hispanics, who vote Democratic, though not in lockstep as blacks do. Take a look at the southern border of Texas in BG’s map - heavily Hispanic territory. (This marks, of course, a realpolitik reason for why Democrats support more open borders and some Republicans promote immigration restrictions.)

I think he was referring to a “strong federal government.” The GOP line has been that the federal government is too powerful, and the states need to have more autonomy. And the GOP is largely made up of white heterosexuals who are at least nominally Christian.

I’m sure the Libertarian Party has many such.

There was a little buzz about it, especially after the “Latinos won’t vote for a black guy” meme died out in the face of polling showing strong Obama support among Hispanics. It was pretty much all talk though, the best numbers I saw for Obama still had him nine points behind McCain in Texas. I think it was one of those “What could happen” stories rather than a “What’s probable to happen”, much like daydreams about Obama winning Georgia and Mississippi on a strong African-American vote.