Fissures appear in the ‘solid red’ Republican South

Posted  by AzBlueMeanie:

Take another look at this map of the popular vote for the 2012 election that I have previously posted.

Popular-vote-graphic

Notice that blue arc through the heart of the "solid red" Republican South? Those blue counties largely correspond to the most populated urban centers of the South.

The Washington Post reports today GOP faces unexpected challenges in South amid shrinking white vote:

Election Day in the South told a newer and more surprising story: The
nation’s first black president finished more strongly in the region
than any other Democratic nominee in three decades
, underscoring a fresh
challenge for Republicans who rely on Southern whites as their base of
national support.

Obama won Virginia and Florida
and narrowly missed victory in North Carolina [which he won in 2008]. But he also polled as
well in Georgia as any Democrat since Jimmy Carter, grabbed 44 percent
of the vote in deep-red South Carolina and just under that in
Mississippi — despite doing no substantive campaigning in any of those
states
.

Much of the post-election analysis has focused on the demographic crisis facing Republicans among
Hispanic voters, particularly in Texas. But the results across other
parts of the South, where Latinos remain a single-digit minority, point
to separate trends among blacks and whites that may also have big
implications for the GOP’s future
.

The results show a region
cleaving apart along new electoral fault lines. In the region’s center,
clustered along the Mississippi River — the GOP remains largely unchallenged and the voting divide
between blacks and whites is deepening. Nearly nine of 10 of white
voters in Mississippi, for instance, went for Republican nominee Mitt
Romney this year, according to exit polls. About 96 percent of black
voters in the state supported Obama.

The pattern is markedly
different in the five states that hug the Atlantic coast from Virginia
to Florida, which together hold 82 of the South’s 160 electoral votes. A
combination of a growing black population, urban expansion, oceanfront
development and in-migration from other regions has opened up increasing
opportunities for Democrats in those states
.

“Georgia is an
achievable target for Democrats in 2016,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed,
a frequent Obama surrogate during the campaign. “What you’re going to
see is the Democratic Party making a drive through the geography from
Virginia to Florida.”

* * *

[P]owerful forces in the region are clearly eroding GOP dominance. The
trends pose difficulties for a Republican Party that has been shifting
toward Dixie since the “Southern strategy” of the Nixon era, which
sought to encourage white flight from the Democratic Party.

In
every Southern state except Louisiana, the population of African
Americans grew substantially faster than that of whites over the past
decade
. The growth is fueled by black retirees from the north and rising
numbers of young, well-educated blacks in prosperous cities such as
Atlanta, Norfolk, Charlotte and Charleston, S.C.

The influx also includes fast-growing, but smaller, Hispanic
populations and an infusion of less-conservative outsiders attracted to
popular coastal areas
. Together, the shifts are making the electoral
landscape from Virginia and the Carolinas look increasingly like the
swing state of Florida.

Obama’s 2012 numbers in the Southeastern coastal states
outperformed every Democratic nominee since Carter and significantly
narrowed past gaps between Democratic and Republican candidates
. The
lone possible exception is Georgia in 1996, which gave Arkansas native
Bill Clinton 45.8 percent in 1996; Obama fell 0.4 percent short of that
mark in tentative 2012 results, but ongoing revisions could close the
gap.

The proportion of white voters in the South is also shrinking.
Southern whites voted overwhelmingly for Romney, but in six Southern
states, far fewer of them appear to have gone to the polls on Nov. 6
than the number who voted for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008.

In
Florida, the share of votes cast by whites this year fell to 66
percent, down from 73 percent in 2000. In Georgia, the number of white
voters declined while African American registration increased nearly 6
percent and Hispanic voters grew by 36 percent.

“Republicans can
focus all they want on Hispanics,” said John Anzalone, a Montgomery,
Ala., pollster who helped analyze swing states for the Obama campaign.
“But they also have a problem with whites, in this election cycle, just
showing up.”

"Many Republican leaders in the South say the lower turnout by whites in
some areas simply reflected lower enthusiasm for Romney as a candidate,
and doesn’t signal a longer term decline in GOP strength." This was probably due to the Mormon factor: fundamentalist Christian voters have for many years consistently polled around 20% in telling pollsters that they would never vote for a Mormon. Poll Shows 1 in 5 Won't Vote For a Mormon.

Contrary to the expectations of many Republican pollsters, black voters came out in droves on Election Day and voted overwhelmingly for Obama — near or above 95 percent in most parts of the South.

“We
were all basically stunned at the results,” Bryant said. “It is very
clear that the direction of the Republican Party — the conservative
movement — is necessarily going to have to include the changing face of
America and address the concerns of minorities, blacks, Latinos, and
even younger white women, all young people. . . . It has to happen or
we’re going to be insignificant
.”

The modern-day Republican Party built upon race-baiting racial animosity — the Southern Strategy — cannot survive by clinging to white privilege and the demonization of people of color. These 19th Century attitudes will not survive the 21st Century.

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