Wednesday, November 10, 2004

4 for 19

That's the record for Democrats in winning open-seat Senate races in the "real" South (not including Florida, but including Kentucky and Oklahoma) since 1987 (I count the Texas special in 1993 as an open seat, although Bob Krueger was a nominal incumbent). Democrats have occasionally knocked off inept Republican incumbents (Lauch Faircloth, Tim Hutchinson), but they have become spectacularly bad at winning races in Dixie without an incumbent, when national forces tend to be most prominent.

So much of Democratic strength in the South has been based on inertia: the clout of powerful incumbents like Lloyd Bentsen and Sam Nunn; the ancestral loyalty of older, rural voters; control of redistricting; business interests' understandable desire to get along with the normal governing party; potential Republican candidates unwillingness to be part of an embattled minority in state legislatures.

Above all else, generations of politicians with conservative values and a practical bent had assumed that the Democratic Party was the only way to get ahead. That's over.

5 comments:

dillon said...

Above all else, the south voted Democratic because Lincoln was a Republican. When the Democratic party became identified with the civil rights of African Americans vis-a-vis the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the screw began to turn and the south is now solidly Republican as opposed to Democratic.

The first crack was Truman desegregating the military, the racist Strom Thurmond responded with his DixieCrat party, remember Zell Miller? The last straw was Johnson.

On Nov 2, 2004 the majority of the people in the piss-ant state of Alabama voted to retain the laws on their books that denied voting rights to African Americans, enforced separate but equal, among other equally immoral laws. Amendment 2. A Democratic can't win there now.

President Johnson knew it too when Sen. Sessions said to him, "If you go forward with the Acts, we the south is lost to us for a generation." He was wrong, make that at least two generations.

Just as Zell Miller was the last of his regional kind, so too are Olmpia Snowe of Maine and Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island. Lincoln Chaffee even voted against Bush. Thats my kind of Republican, but just William Weld was driven out of the party by Jesse Helms, so too will Chaffee be driven out sooner or later.

The Democrats have to forget the south, that is hand we were dealt by Johnson, and God bless him for doing so. We must focus our efforts on the prairie states, Colorado etc, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada.

The "real" south is lost, but we stood on principle. Its our principles we have to clearly define. Then we'll win again.

Moosa Man said...

Just wondering: What does control of redistricting have to do with the Senate?

Richard Skinner said...

Control of redistricting has nothing to do with the Senate, but it did have a lot to do with Southern Democratic strength in the U.S. House. This changed over the last two redistricing cycles. In 1991-92, Southern legislatures were forced to create several minority-majority districts that had the ultimate effect of also creating many overwhelmingly white seats that went Republican. In 2001-02, Republicans in Virginia and Florida were able to use the redistricting pen to their own advantage. And now, of course, we have Texas.

MWS said...

I think it's disturbing that erick is willing to write off the South as a bunch of illiterate racists and take the sanctimonious position that Democrats should forget about the southerners because we stand for principle. As for not repealing the anti-African American provisions, well, it's sort of a moot point, isn't it, since those laws no longer apply. If you actually went to the South, instead of just engaging your stereotypes, you would find out that there has been a lot of racial progress. It's not just a bunch of crackers beating up on blacks. I'm not saying it's a haven of racial harmony but as someone who grew up in the South, I can tell you that things have changed a lot. Stereotyping people and writing them off as irredeemable isn't going to help the Democrats anywhere.

Anonymous said...

I'm with MWS -- don't write off the South as one big mass of racist conservatives. Even though North Carolina (my home state) hasn't voted Democratic in thirty years, 44% of us supported Kerry. There are plenty of other southern states that have similar numbers as well; I wouldn't call us "lost" by any stretch.