August 31, 2016

BECAUSE WE GET THE SAME STUFF EVERY ELECTION YEAR, A FLASHBACK: The Myth Of The Southern Strategy:

Everyone knows that race has long played a decisive role in Southern electoral politics. From the end of Reconstruction until the beginning of the civil rights era, the story goes, the national Democratic Party made room for segregationist members — and as a result dominated the South. But in the 50s and 60s, Democrats embraced the civil rights movement, costing them the white Southern vote. Meanwhile, the Republican Party successfully wooed disaffected white racists with a “Southern strategy” that championed “states’ rights.”

It’s an easy story to believe, but this year two political scientists called it into question. In their book “The End of Southern Exceptionalism,” Richard Johnston of the University of Pennsylvania and Byron Shafer of the University of Wisconsin argue that the shift in the South from Democratic to Republican was overwhelmingly a question not of race but of economic growth. In the postwar era, they note, the South transformed itself from a backward region to an engine of the national economy, giving rise to a sizable new wealthy suburban class. This class, not surprisingly, began to vote for the party that best represented its economic interests: the G.O.P. Working-class whites, however — and here’s the surprise — even those in areas with large black populations, stayed loyal to the Democrats. (This was true until the 90s, when the nation as a whole turned rightward in Congressional voting.)

The two scholars support their claim with an extensive survey of election returns and voter surveys.

Just a reminder.

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