Southern Whites’ Loyalty to G.O.P. Nearing That of Blacks to Democrats
The demographics throughout the United States are changing. Even more so in the South. However, large tracts of the South is host to strong white republican coalitions that for the moment, hold the political power in the House, and in our recent history, even the White House :
From the high plains of West Texas to the Atlantic Coast of Georgia, white voters opposed Mr. Obama’s re-election in overwhelming numbers. In many counties 90 percent of white voters chose Mitt Romney, nearly the reversal of the margin by which black voters supported Mr. Obama.
While white Southerners have been voting Republican for decades, the hugeness of the gap was new. Mr. Obama often lost more than 40 percent of Al Gore’s support among white voters south of the historically significant line of the Missouri Compromise. Two centuries later, Southern politics are deeply polarized along racial lines. It is no exaggeration to suggest that in these states the Democrats have become the party of African Americans and that the Republicans are the party of whites.
The collapse in Democratic support among white Southerners has been obscured by the rise of the Obama coalition. Higher black turnout allowed the Democrats to win nearly 44 percent of the vote in states like Mississippi, where 37 percent of voters were black. But the white shift is nearly as important to contemporary electoral politics as the Obama coalition. It represents an end, at least temporarily, to the South’s assimilation into the American political and cultural mainstream.
The problem for Republicans is that the Democratic weakness appears confined to the white South. Even though some analysts suggested that Mr. Obama was historically weak among white voters more generally, he fared better than recent Democratic nominees among white voters outside of the South. That’s how he won battleground states like Iowa, Colorado, Wisconsin and New Hampshire. Whatever is causing Republicans to excel in the South, whether religion or race, just isn’t helping them elsewhere.
If the Republicans do eventually attempt to broaden their appeal, the result could be the eventual marginalization of the South within American politics. For now, cultural issues like same-sex marriage are at least given lip service by the national Republican Party. In the future, they might not even get that courtesy.
This loss of power is what the South fears the most. The irony is - it will be their intractability and their intransigence which will be the catalyst to their worst nightmare: broad political power wresting with the West and North, and a coalition with the ‘minority majority’ non-white South.
And this is why:
Moreover, the Republican Party’s increasingly Southern character makes broadening its appeal more challenging. A record 41 percent of Republican voters in the 2012 election hailed from the South. Those voters elected more than half of all House Republicans in 2012 — the first time that Southerners have represented a majority of the House Republican Caucus. They have since blocked establishment-led efforts on an immigration overhaul and voted to shut down the government by an 88 to 25 margin in October, after an effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act predictably failed