From a Washington Post report:

For congressional elections, southern Democrats’ plight appears even more hopeless. Because of the way districts are drawn and populations are concentrated, Democrats won just 28 percent of Southern House seats in 2012 despite receiving over 40 percent of the vote in those states. And these districts are not just a few percentage points away from becoming competitive due to demographic trends. Republicans hold a partisanship edge of at least 14 percent in 47 of 60 districts in the Deep South belt of the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Barring national electoral reforms at the congressional level (such as FairVote’s recommendation of fair representation voting), there is no reason to think this situation will change after the next census in 2020.

If Democrats are counting on voters in South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas to win them the White House and Congress in 2024, they might want to come up with a backup plan.

Karen L. Cox, a professor at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, writes: 

IT’S tough being a Southern liberal. In the postelection analysis of the past two weeks, pundits have made hay of the fact that while Barack Obama won the election, Mitt Romney won the Confederacy. Or as Jon Stewart put it, “most of the Confederacy.”

After Mr. Romney carried the lion’s share of the region’s electoral votes, people were quick to pounce. One person on Twitter wrote, “I always knew the Zombie Apocalypse would start in the Southern States.” On Facebook, in a widely shared image comparing the 2012 electoral map with the map of former slave states, the individual who posted it wrote, “Sometimes change is really hard, especially when people don’t want to change.”

That we are still using the term “Confederacy” to describe the South and pointing to slave maps says a lot about how hard it is for the region to move beyond its historical reputation, however richly deserved, for one that reflects more current realities. Voters in Charlotte, N.C., Atlanta, Nashville, New Orleans, Birmingham, Ala., and even Jackson, Miss., gave Mr. Obama substantial majorities, not because they are out of step with the rest of the country but because they are part of the same urban-rural divide that drives voting everywhere.

So if we’re going to apply the term “Confederacy,” then perhaps we can all agree that while a majority of Southern white voters seem intransigent to change, the region is nevertheless being transformed by its changing demographics.

While they have precious little reason to think the GOP might actually help them, working-class white southerners know at least that the Republicans are infinitely less likely to do anything to help blacks at their expense, or anyone else’s for that matter. Seizing on this line of thought, Republicans have been quite effective in racializing political identification in the South, to the point that the Democrats are perceived as simply the party of blacks in many cases, much as Republicans were seen in the Reconstruction era. Although some deft GOP gerrymandering had a hand in it as well, there is no better personification of the thorough color-coding of southern partisan affiliation than Representative John Barrow of Georgia, the only white Democrat in the Deep South still serving in the House of Representatives.
Jim Cobb, University of Georgia historian, writing in North or South, Country Folks Ain’t Very Cool These Days by Jim Cobb |

A couple of weeks back an intelligent, well-intentioned fellow in the employ of the New York Times asked me to respond to a new study showing that, among other things, 62 percent of working-class white southerners supported Mitt Romney, a figure roughly 20 points higher than in any other region. “How could this be?” my earnest new editor friend begged to know. Why did lower-income whites persist in voting Republican in direct contradiction to their economic interests? This being only the gazillionth time I have fielded this query, my first impulse was to politely decline his invite, but true to my pledge to try to educate as many Yankees as I can in the short time I have left, I signed on, knowing from the start that I was to be accorded all of 400 words to unravel a mystery that could not be done justice in 400 pages. To his credit, the editor proved very patient and did his dead-level best to hack the piece down to size without destroying my argument entirely, but I hope you will be kind enough to indulge my effort to salvage the stuff that wound up on the cutting-room floor and reconstruct what I would have said if they had just given me the elbow room to say it. So here goes.

The fundamental explanation for such strong support for Romney among working-class white southerners is actually quite simple. An overwhelming majority of them are Republicans—and highly partisan ones at that. Beyond this point, however, things get a little more complicated.

In virtually every state in the South, at the Congressional and state level, Republicans—to protect and expand their gains in 2010—have increased the number of minority voters in majority-minority districts represented overwhelmingly by black Democrats while diluting the minority vote in swing or crossover districts held by white Democrats. “What’s uniform across the South is that Republicans are using race as a central basis in drawing districts for partisan advantage,” says Anita Earls, a prominent civil rights lawyer and executive director of the Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “The bigger picture is to ultimately make the Democratic Party in the South be represented only by people of color.” The GOP’s long-term goal is to enshrine a system of racially polarized voting that will make it harder for Democrats to win races on local, state, federal and presidential levels. Four years after the election of Barack Obama, which offered the promise of a new day of postracial politics in states like North Carolina, Republicans are once again employing a Southern Strategy that would make Richard Nixon and Lee Atwater proud.

While much of Southern society has changed, many valued traditions remain, and high on the list of what defines our culture is our food and nothing says “South” like Barbeque (BBQ.)

[Lyndon] Johnson, a vastly experienced and canny politician, … understood that his civil rights advocacy divided the traditional Democratic coalition and offered fodder to a Republican Party eager to regain control of the White House by rejecting its Lincoln legacy and absorbing the followers of the segregationist demagogue George C. Wallace of Alabama. On the night L.B.J. signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, his speechwriter and adviser Bill Moyers walked into his bedroom, unexpectedly finding him looking forlorn. “I think,” Johnson explained, “we just delivered the South to the Republican Party for a long time to come.”

good ol’ French Quarter


good ol’ French Quarter

You can always recognize smart people in the South. They’re the ones wearing Like the Dew gear. Here, for instance, is Alex Taylor of Atlanta. He’s not only wearing a Like the Dew cap. He’s also actually reading a book. Imagine that! And if you’re looking for some of that gear from the progressive Southern Web site, check it out by clicking here.

You can always recognize smart people in the South. They’re the ones wearing Like the Dew gear. Here, for instance, is Alex Taylor of Atlanta. He’s not only wearing a Like the Dew cap. He’s also actually reading a book. Imagine that! And if you’re looking for some of that gear from the progressive Southern Web site, check it out by clicking here.