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Race, Campaign Politics, and the Realignment in the South

James M. Glaser
Copyright Date: 1996
Published by: Yale University Press
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  • Book Info
    Race, Campaign Politics, and the Realignment in the South
    Book Description:

    Since the Voting Rights Act of 1965, growing numbers of southerners have called themselves Republicans, and Republican candidates have carried the South in presidential elections. Yet the Democratic Party has persisted in winning southern congressional elections. In this engagingly written book, James M. Glaser explains this political phenomenon, investigating six special U.S. House elections won by Democrats from 1981 to 1993 in Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, and Virginia. Glaser draws upon his own direct observations, news reports, and extensive interviews with election participants-candidates, advisors, journalists, labor leaders, party officials, black ministers, volunteers, and others-to demonstrate that issues of group conflict and race continue to have an enormous impact on congressional politics in the South. According to Glaser, southern Democrats have prolonged realignment and kept control of local elections through a variety of tactics. Most important, southern Democrats have been able to construct biracial coalitions in an ever-changing political environment. Glaser's analysis offers insight into what led Democrats to be so unexpectedly successful in the Reagan-Bush years and into what they must do if they are to survive the increasingly powerful force of southern Republicanism.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14735-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  5. 1 The Puzzles of the Southern Realignment
    (pp. 1-24)

    THROUGHOUT THE SOUTH, a lot of old Democrats are finding themselves at various stages of conversion to the Republican party. Born Democratic, raised Democratic, they have had difficulty letting go of their old affiliation, which in many cases was burned into them. “Daddy would have whipped me if I was anything but a Democrat,” said one former Democratic county chairman from East Texas. “There’s no rhyme or reason for [my being a Democrat] anymore, except it’s all I know” (Taylor 1985a). Still, he and many other white southerners slowly are working their way toward a new identity.

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  6. 2 The Case for Context
    (pp. 25-42)

    IN THIS BOOK, I tell a story of how Democratic and Republican candidates for Congress have campaigned for office in the South. It is a description of the strategies they have pursued, the tactics they have used, and their intentions in using them. It is, in short, an attempt to follow Herbert Simon’s directive and analyze “the process whereby alternatives are generated,” the Democratic and Republican alternatives posed to the southern voter. Simon’s larger point, of course, is that the introduction of such political context can help resolve thorny analytical problems. By describing and analyzing elections as I do here,...

  7. 3 Racial Issues in the Congressional Campaign
    (pp. 43-79)

    RACE IS ALWAYS A FACTOR in southern congressional campaigns. As I argue throughout this book, the racial composition of a congressional district determines which strategies will be most effective, what tactics are to be used, how a candidate’s time will be spent, what media are to be employed, what issues will be highlighted. Race is never far from the minds of southern campaign managers. It cannot be.

    This does not mean that an explicitly racial issue arises in every southern campaign. Most campaigns, in fact, are not fought over issues that one might associate with racial politics—voting rights, affirmative...

  8. 4 Courting White Voters
    (pp. 80-141)

    THE STORY UP TO THIS POINT has been about how southern Republican congressional candidates try to attract large shares of the white vote, how Democrats try to maximize the black vote, and how these two strategies are related. The margin of victory, however, comes from neither the black vote nor the white Republican vote. The difference between winning and losing turns on white votes, traditionally Democratic whites who could go either way and more often than not have gone the Republican way in presidential elections.

    If Democrats are to win white votes in the South, they must do more than...

  9. 5 The Majority Black District
    (pp. 142-174)

    ONE RECENT CONSEQUENCE of the Voting Rights Act of 1964 has been that southern states have created new majority black congressional and state legislative districts. The number of majority black districts in the South has gone from zero in 1970 to sixteen following the 1990 redistricting. The number of black members of the House of Representatives from the South has risen accordingly from two (first elected from 45–50 percent black urban districts in 1973 [Congressional Quarterly 1982]) to seventeen over this period. As of the 1990 Census, blacks comprise 19 percent of the population of the south, and, as...

  10. 6 Resolving the Puzzles
    (pp. 175-196)

    TO REPEAT THE WORDS OF V. O. Key with which I began this book, “In its grand outlines, the politics of the South revolves around the position of the Negro” (5). Perhaps the most intriguing element of this argument was that racial context profoundly influenced the course of southern politics. It was the concentration of blacks in a particular area that shaped white racial attitudes, political incentives to suppress black aspirations, and political dialogue in that area.

    The South has undergone dramatic changes since Key analyzed the southern polity in 1949. But while the specifics are different, his argument is...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 197-212)
  12. References
    (pp. 213-222)
  13. Index
    (pp. 223-229)