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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

‘Regional Party of the South’ Meme Busted

Kris Kromm of the Institute for Southern Stuidies Facing South web page takes on the “GOP is a regional party of the south” meme being parroted in the msm and blogosphere, and he makes a persuasive case that it is overstated, if not a facile generalization.
Kromm points out that 56 percent of House of Reps Republicans come from non-south states and “the three states where Obama did the worst weren’t in the South; they were Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.” Kromm adds that, in terms of political party self-i.d., the South has about 5 percent more Republicans than does the N.E., 1 percent more than the midwest and 3 percent more than the far west — hardly an overwhelming gap, especially considering both margins of error and the fact that the South is becomming more demographically-diverse every day. Kromm also provides a list of the “Top Ten Republican States” in terms of party self-i.d. (based on Gallup’s 2008 data) indicating only 2 of the top nine GOP states are in the South, AL and SC, with a three-way tie for the #10 spot between MS, SD and ND.
He could have also added that Democratic senators, governors, mayors and state legislators are competitive and holding offices in healthy numbers across the region. In an era when an African American progressive Democrat can win the electoral votes of two of the South’s largest states, the meme seems a bit outdated. Other than political campaign TV and radio ad-buys, what’s the practical use of making broad, regional generalizations about political opinion anyway?

One comment on “‘Regional Party of the South’ Meme Busted

  1. Andrew Levine on

    I would say that while it’s true that party registrations aren’t all that divergent between regions, the characterization of the GOP as presently becoming a regional party is based on where the its power bases are concentrated right now rather than where their voters are.
    The top 15 current high-profile Republican officials nationwide at the moment are probably (in no particular order) Palin, Jindal, Romney, Gingrich, Steele, Crist, Graham, McConnell, Cantor, Boehner, McCain, Barbour, Sanford, Pawlenty, and Cornyn. A subjective list, and if you were to extend it to 20 you would probably have at least three more non-Southerners there (e.g. Giuliani), but still that’s 9 out of 15 from a region with only 1/4 the nation’s population. And I’m not even counting the President’s predecessor, a Texan who’s laying it very low right now but who casts a long shadow over the current political climate.
    In a related issue, the disappearance of the Republicans from the Northeast, where social conservative issues no longer work at the ballot box, is also pretty hard to overstate. There are now 23 New England Democrats in the House versus 0 Republicans. There are 19 Democratic Senators from the Northeast and 3 Republicans (two of whom would have no chance of challenging and winning a Republican primary if they moved to any state McCain won).

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