Dixiecrats Will Make or Break Future Elections

Democratic gains in the West don’t offset loses in the South, according to Brookings Institution visiting fellow William H. Frey. His study of recent Census data, “The Electoral College Moves to the Sun Belt,” says Democrats better get busy in the South, or kiss future elections good-bye. Los Angeles Times:

…anyone who believes Democrats can consistently win the White House without puncturing the Republican dominance across the South is just whistling Dixie. The census projections present Democrats with an ominous equation: the South is growing in electoral clout even as the Republican hold on the region solidifies…

In 2004, Bush won 286 electoral college votes, while Democrat John F. Kerry tallied 252 (with 270 needed for victory). Frey projects that after the 2010 census, four electoral college votes will shift from Kerry states to Bush states…

By 2030, he forecasts, the Democratic strongholds of New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Massachusetts and Michigan would lose a combined 17 electoral college votes. Over that same period, Florida (up nine, to 36) and Texas (up eight, to 42) could gain that many votes alone. Arizona (up five, to 15), which has voted Democratic for president once since 1952, would be the other big winner.

The only Democratic bastion likely to increase in strength is California, which Frey projects would gain one electoral college vote (to 56) after 2010, and another after 2030.

The big lesson for Democrats from these numbers is that there is no substitute for restoring the party’s competitiveness in at least some of the South — particularly Florida and states such as Arkansas, Virginia and Tennessee…

There’s a warning sign for Republicans too. The three big projected electoral college winners — Florida, Texas and Arizona — all have large and growing Latino populations.

Florida’s Democratic party just went through a (surprise!) fairly contentious leadership change, after former head Scott Maddox stepped down to run for governor. State Representative Karen Thurman, the new chair, better come out swinging.


2 thoughts on “Dixiecrats Will Make or Break Future Elections”

  1. This issue is one I see with Pollyanna, glass-is-half-full, rose-colored glasses. A crucial factor is missing in these data. Namely, how many of the millions of Yankees who are moving south are Democrats versus how many are Republicans.

    If only the Republicans in New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Massachusetts and Michigan are moving to Red states, then, yes, that signals big trouble for the Democrats. But three of these states aer solid Blue – and PA is decidely Purple – so unless we are to assume the emigres southward are fleeing Liberalism, a case could be made that the majority of these new Southerners will be Democrats.

    We can point to a real-life example that illustrates how this trend could ultimately benefit Democrats. Neither North Carolina nor New Jersey were mentioned in the LA Times article but they are both already experiencing population shift it refers to.

    North Carolina has gained more than 3 million people in the last two decades. A huge percentage of these new residents are expatriated from New Jersey. In the next census, NC will almost undoubtedly top 9.5 million, pushing it up past NJ to become the ninth largest state.

    In national elections, NC has voted for Republicans more often than not, but when it comes to statewide offices it has voted for Democrats consistently even in the post Civil Rights era. Republicans simply do not have the lock on Tarheel votes that they do in South Carolina and the Deep South states.

    In the 2004 presidential elections, the state’s largest county, Mecklenburg, voted for Kerry-Edwards, which may or may not be a harbinger of things to come. (We’ll know more if their odious GOP Rep. Sue Myrick is unseated in the Congressionals next year.)

    The larger question is, do the Yankees moving south share the cultural values of their new Southern neighbors? If you change the wording on in the question to replace “cultural” values with “Southern” values, the answer to the question becomes clear.

    “Southern values” include positives like being polite even if you don’t feel like it and being kind, genorous and thoughtful – none of which are hallmarks of life above the Mason-Dixon. But Southern values also include racism, homophobia, xenophobia and a whole rack of other “values” that are a by-product of the South’s ancient Faustian deal with devil over slavery.

    Northerners who move south aren’t anymore like to morphe into Foghorn Leghorns of civility than they are to become fundamentalist Christians and racial or sexual bigots.

    So the final ironic chapter in the the South’s romance with its slave-owning past may turn out to be that, having won the war more than a century ago, the Yankees are now finally invading. And with this invasion, the last vestiges of slavery – its ugly twisted offspring, racism and ignorance – may finally be vanquished.

    That would be good news for Democrats.

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