The “New” South Vs. The “Old” South

The American South has undergone a lot of change in the past half century since the March On Washington in 1963.

Many Northerners have moved South; many people of African American and Latino heritage have grown up in an environment where segregation and open prejudice is gone: and we have seen Southern Presidents who completely represented a different image of the South.

So we have President Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas, who overcame his past and his heritage, and promoted the Civil Rights Revolution, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

We have Jimmy Carter of Georgia, the first Southerner elected from outside since Zachary Taylor in 1848, representing the “New South” Governors elected in 1970, including Ruben Askew of Florida and Dale Bumpers of Arkansas. Carter promoted advancements in civil rights and human rights, and demonstrated then, and right up to this moment, that he is a very principled, decent man.

And we have Bill Clinton, elected Governor of Arkansas, representing the New South tradition after Dale Bumpers had initiated it in Arkansas, and being a major promoter of civil rights and equality during his Presidency, as much as Johnson and Carter.

And we have John Lewis, the only surviving speaker at the March on Washington, now 73 years old, and carrying on the tradition of his mentor, Martin Luther King, Jr. He has been an exemplary Congressman from Georgia, and truly the conscience of the nation on civil rights!

These four gentlemen, three Presidents and a Congressman, represent the best of the “New South”!

The “Old South” was thought to be overcome, particularly over time with the death of Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, and others of their ilk.

But as it turns out, the “Old South” mentality has survived even past these two GOP leaders who promoted segregation and hate, as the 2013 Republican Party, with the evil influence of the Tea Party Movement, is working very hard to back track on racial equality, racial progress, racial justice, and using code language to appeal to the bigots and racists who remain in America, whether in the South or Midwest or Great Plains areas of the nation, and hoping to repeal the progress of the past half century.

They do this without shame or embarrassment, and that is what is most troubling, and they even have their talk show hosts on radio and television and cable, who spew forth hateful and divisive propaganda with no apologies–Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity et al—and make millions on promotion of hate and division, rather than trying to bring us together and move forward!

So the “Old South” is, ironically, surviving in the party of Abraham Lincoln, Thaddeus Stevens, Charles Sumner and the other principled Republicans of 150 years ago, who fought against the “Old South” and slavery, and would, if they were here today, hold their heads in their hands, and weep over what the Republican Party they loved, has become!

10 comments on “The “New” South Vs. The “Old” South

  1. Rustbelt Democrat August 28, 2013 12:48 pm

    Well said Professor!

  2. Jane Doe August 28, 2013 1:12 pm

    Lulz! The Professor posts truthful information. Rob Juan can’t handle the truth.

  3. Princess Leia August 28, 2013 4:22 pm

    This is how I define myself politically: center-left on social issues, middle of the road on economics, center-right on foreign policy.

  4. Rustbelt Democrat August 28, 2013 4:47 pm

    I consider the Democrats to be a big tent party. You have liberals and progressives, you have conservative Democrats (the Blue Dogs), and the Third Way centrists (like Bill Clinton).

  5. Jane Doe August 28, 2013 6:57 pm

    I tend to be the same way Princess Leia.

  6. Maggie August 28, 2013 11:57 pm

    Wow! Very thought provoking Professor. You always hit the heart of a topic. I would like to see this entry printed in newspapers all over the country. Those of us who are ” of a certain age” remember the 60’s and all that has transpired the past 50 years. I honestly never imagined I would see what destruction the current Republican party is causing now. Very sad.
    Thank you the aide-mémoire Professor!!

  7. D August 29, 2013 4:01 pm

    Ronald writes, “But as it turns out, the ‘Old South’ mentality has survived even past these two GOP leaders who promoted segregation and hate, as the 2013 Republican Party, with the evil influence of the Tea Party Movement, is working very hard to back track on racial equality, racial progress, racial justice, and using code language to appeal to the bigots and racists who remain in America, whether in the South or Midwest or Great Plains areas of the nation, and hoping to repeal the progress of the past half century.”

    There are LOTS for me to consider. And my response is LOTS to read. Please be patient with me!

    I think THIS is what today’s Republican party has to rely on with their hopes for successfully prevailing with electoral politics. Between the three levels of power—the presidency, the Senate, and the House—it’s the last for which they are in the best position to retain majorities. That is part of a numbers’ game, specifically with the individual numbers of congressional districts throughout the United States.

    After the 1960s, 37th president of the United States Richard Nixon saw the future of the Republican party being one whose base would move over to the south. It took a while to materialize; but in 1984, all of the Old Confederacy states (with exception of Tennessee) gave Ronald Reagan higher margins than his national one with defeat of Walter Mondale. (A preview of this came from Election 1972.) In 1988, George Bush went 11-for-11 in winning them beyond his national number over Michael Dukakis.

    When one looks at the history of today’s two major political parties, we are basically subjected to the inverse of the parties’ brands. The Old Confederacy went from Democratic to Republican. The “north” flipped from Republican to Democratic with effectively this same period. In 1988, Bush underperformed Reagan’s 1984 national number and saw nine states flip from the 1984 Republican to the 1988 Democratic column (for Dukakis). All nine were not among the Old Confederacy. This ran somewhat a parallel to 1948, when Harry Truman held the White House with a fifth consecutive Democratic party victory while losing Republican opponent Thomas Dewey won his pickup states which numbered zero from the Old Confederacy. The 1988 George Bush underperformed in such Top 10-ranked populous states as California, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. He lost, to Dukakis, then-No. 2 New York. But the counter realignment truly manifested, for the Democrats, when Bill Clinton unseated Bush in 1992. With that election, all three of those states—plus Michigan and New Jersey—flipped from 1988 Republican to 1992 Democratic. These are among a group of former base states for the Republican party which have not carried once thereafter.

    Just to single out certain special states: I look at the Old Confederacy base being especially with the deep-south duo Alabama/Mississippi, and the “north” base being especially with New Englander Vermont. Historically, Ala./Miss. have had the vote since 1820, and they have carried the same in all cycles except 1840. Given they are younger than Vt., there are few presidential winners who won all three in the SAME election: James Monroe (1820); Ulysses Grant (1868, 1872); Richard Nixon (1972); Ronald Reagan (1980, 1984); and George Bush (1988). When all three carried just the same, they were in elections where the victor won an overwhelming number of available states. Monroe carried all 20-for-20 (but was denied the full 100 percent of electoral votes) in 1820; Grant won 26-for-34 (76 percent) in 1868, followed by 31-for-37 (83 percent) in 1872; Nixon carried 49-for-50 (98 percent) in 1972; Reagan won 44-for-50 (88 percent) in 1980, followed by 49-for-50 (98 percent) in 1984; and Bush Sr. carried 40-for-50 (80 percent) in 1988. Interesting to note with these polar opposites is that the Republicans carried Vermont from their first competitive cycle, in 1856, all the way through to 1988 but with one exception—1964. That year, Barry Goldwater was a different breed of Republican, and he broke through in the south. Among his coups were winning over Alabama/Mississippi. But while that was, indeed, amazing for the U.S. senator from Arizona, incumbent 36th president Lyndon Johnson won a Democratic party pickup with Vermont which, effectively, rejected Goldwater. THAT was no coincidence. One can go ahead and say to himself, “Has my home state historically and electorally agreed more often with Ala./Miss. or with Vt.?”

    Perhaps, when considering everything in this topic from Ronald, I’m guilty of digressing. I did not take on more immediately responding to “promoted segregation and hate,” as well as the use of “code language to appeal to the bigots and racists who remain in America.” I think that has to do with this: I consider some of that to be the remnants of a Republican political “machine” left over from 25 years ago, when Lee Atwater—who died from a brain tumor in 1991—managed the 1988 campaign for George Bush. Post-death, Atwater was revealed to have given a unanimous interview—from Alexander P. Lamis’s book “The Two-Party South”—in which he copped to the longterm use of formulated language. How to incorporate timely racist messages without likewise timely use of carefully word terms. But, that period’s successful strategy doesn’t beget another’s. (Even Atwater knew that. His strategy didn’t save the 41st president from becoming unseated with his bid for a second term. Had Atwater lived, and managed the 1992 re-election campaign for Bush Sr., the nation still would have elected Bill Clinton the 42nd president of the United States.)

    I mentioned, in a previous posting, that piggish remarks made by congressional GOPs, like Iowa’s Steve King and Texas’s Louis Gohmert, are small because, in part, they are attention-craving pols who would not present their commentary if they intended to run statewide for elected office. (Not even in a midterm wave favoring their party. Between the two, odds are better for Gohmert.) In the case of GOPs having to perform at least on a statewide level, their first step is with speaking to what they figure to be the “language” of their base. That’s what they believe works best in getting one’s party base to deliver at least the nomination. If you’re likeminded, you’re pleased with a Republican party’s nominee. (Think of U.S. senatorial nominees Richard Mourdock in 2012 Indiana; Todd Akin in 2012 Missouri; and in a midterm wave for the GOP, Christine O’Donnell in 2010 Delaware.) But, from a historical standpoint (more to the point of the latest presidential electoral-map outlook going greatly against today’s Team Red), it is ultimately a loser.

    I researched and examined past presidential elections strictly between the Republican-vs.-Democratic parties. Team Red first competed in 1856. The recent 2012 election marked the 40th cycle for their party battles against candidates from Team Blue. (We haven’t elected a U.S. president, in all this time, who didn’t have a “R” or “D” next to his name.) During this extensive period, I had to likewise pit the Old Confederacy against the Rust Belt. The north-vs.-south. Why not? After all, part of what Ronald is addressing has to do with today’s Republicans trying to shore up and further solidify support from their base. However, the first-ever GOP winner, Abraham Lincoln, was from the SAME state as our 44th and current president, Barack Obama. And that state is the very northern Illinois.

    Here is what I asked of myself to answer: “Which one of these two areas historically came through with more elected U.S. presidents?”

    Before revealing that here, let me also present the following: “Since the presidential election of 1856, how many of these 40 presidential election cycles were won where not one of the eleven states of the Old Confederacy were carried—and how many of these 40 presidential election cycles were won where not one of the nine Rust Belt states were carried?”

    With zero of the eleven from the Old Confederacy: Abraham Lincoln (1860, secession from 1864); James Garfield (1880); Benjamin Harrison (1888); William McKinley (1896, 1900); Theodore Roosevelt (1904); William Howard Taft (1908); and Calvin Coolidge (1924). That totals nine [9].

    With zero of the nine from the Rust Belt: Zero [0]. Yes, indeed, it is true that not one of those 40—and, while I’m at it, not one of the overall 57 United States presidential elections—have ever boasted a winning presidential candidate with a record of 0-for-9 from the Rust Belt.

    Today, we have leading bellwethers from both regions: Florida, from the Old Confederacy, and Ohio, in the Rust Belt. And we have Virginia having ranked No. 1 with best mirroring the popular-vote margin—statewide-vs.-national—with the outcomes of Elections 2008 and 2012. (Its spread, in 2008, was 0.96 percent and, in 2012, it was a mere 0.03 percent.) If everyone having ever read “The Progressive Professor” is still alive come 2050, they may likely see Florida, Ohio, and Virginia routinely carry for all presidential winners. This trio is on pace to do so.

    The preceding and the following may take care of some of the argument about the north-vs.-south divide. (Read carefully.) But it still doesn’t eliminate a general understanding of the two major parties having their bases of support from different regions. And those different regions containing different perspectives—from the voting electorates—my earlier question: “Since 1856, how many of the 40 election cycles were won by a candidate whose party’s base states came from the Old Confederacy [‘south’]—and how many of the 40 election cycles were won by a candidate whose party’s base states came from the Rust Belt/etc. [‘north’]?”

    Here is the list:

    • 1856: James Buchanan (D)—South
    • 1860: Abraham Lincoln (R; pickup)—North
    • 1864: Abraham Lincoln (R)—North
    • 1868: Ulysses Grant (R)—North
    • 1872: Ulysses Grant (R)—North
    • 1876: Rutherford Hayes (R)—North
    • 1880: James Garfield (R)—North
    • 1884: Grover Cleveland (D; pickup)—South
    • 1888: Benjamin Harrison (R; pickup)—North
    • 1892: Grover Cleveland (D; pickup)—South
    • 1896: William McKinley (R; pickup)—North
    • 1900: William McKinley (R)—North
    • 1904: Theodore Roosevelt (R)—North
    • 1908: William Howard Taft (R)—North
    • 1912: Woodrow Wilson (D; pickup)—South
    • 1916: Woodrow Wilson (D)—South
    • 1920: Warren Harding (R; pickup)—North
    • 1924: Calvin Coolidge (R)—North
    • 1928: Herbert Hoover (R)—North
    • 1932: Franklin Roosevelt (D; pickup)—South
    • 1936: Franklin Roosevelt (D)—South
    • 1940: Franklin Roosevelt (D)—South
    • 1944: Franklin Roosevelt (D)—South
    • 1948: Harry Truman (D)—South
    • 1952: Dwight Eisenhower (R; pickup)—North
    • 1956: Dwight Eisenhower (R)—North
    • 1960: John Kennedy (D; pickup)—Transitional
    • 1964: Lyndon Johnson (D)—North (deviation)
    • 1968: Richard Nixon (R; pickup)—Transitional
    • 1972: Richard Nixon (R)—South (deviation)
    • 1976: Jimmy Carter (D; pickup)—South
    • 1980: Ronald Reagan (R; pickup)—Transitional
    • 1984: Ronald Reagan (R)—South
    • 1988: George Bush (R)—South
    • 1992: Bill Clinton (D; pickup)—North
    • 1996: Bill Clinton (D)—North
    • 2000: George W. Bush (R; pickup)—South
    • 2004: George W. Bush (R)—South
    • 2008: Barack Obama (D; pickup)—North
    • 2012: Barack Obama (D)—North

    1960, 1968, and 1980 were what I call “Transitional” results, because the winners carried some bases states by larger margins—yet some particular ones were on the turfs of each party. In 1960, Nixon failed to hold the White House for his incumbent Republican party yet he won Florida and Virginia. Those two had previously carried all prevailing Democrats. On the other hand, Democratic pickup winner Kennedy won over some Republican base states, like New Jersey and Connecticut, which carried for previous losing GOP candidates—like 1948 Thomas Dewey with both and, before that, the unseated 1932 Herbert Hoover’s carriage of just six states included Conn. Also, with 1960 and 1968, party-pickup winners Kennedy and Nixon just barely eked out winning over the U.S. Popular Vote. So, numerically, the majority of their carried states—from both of their respective elections—were nearly unanimous in overperforming their national margins of D+0.17 and R+0.70.

    With the first victory of Reagan in 1980, he had split outcomes from states in both regions. He overperformed in the “south” with Florida, Texas, and Virginia—yet he underpeformed in all other eight Old Confederacy states. In the “north,” Reagan overperformed in his native California, along with neighboring Oregon and Washington as well as Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Iowa—yet he underperformed in the likes of Pennsylvania, Michigan, his birth state Illinois, and Wisconsin. (Quick fact about Pa.: Last Democrat elected without the Keystone State was 1948 Harry Truman. But after that decade, all elected Republicans who carried Pa. ended up with margins less than their national numbers. This is true with Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush. This means Pa. has tilted Democratic since at least 1952. It is a base state for the Democrats. When Team Blue prevails … Pa. carries.)

    The elections listed as a “deviation” were the inverted map of Goldwater-vs.-Johnson (1964)—and that Nixon won (1972) every Old Confederacy state by larger margins than his national number. (That wasn’t the case for him with some northern states, then the base of the GOP.)

    All the rest on the list are as definitive as can be asked. And there are no bonus points for me to further discuss them. When adding it all up, one can set aside the three “Transitional” elections, because one prefers a solid report. But the “deviations” (1964, 1972) still count, because they were good enough to be “definitive.”

    This leaves 37 election cycles to be counted. The North were instrumental with giving us elected presidents from 21 victories, for 56.75 percent. The South were instrumental with giving us elected presidents from 16 victories, for 43.24 percent.

    I think this says a lot.

    While changes happen, gradually, there is much to consider with past performances. It tells us a lot about how, over time, the people of this country think. How they respond. It’s also true about what is learned from history. But that it isn’t true with everyone who references some history.

    In conclusion to expressing what I think of these standout figures from today’s Republican party, along with their cyncial and sickened efforts, I look at their presidential electoral potential as explaining why they are desperate. They represent a dying grasp at attaining and holding onto power—while refraining from changing the platform of their party—and that’s why we get the ruthless tactics which include voter suppression. But, once more, when it comes to today’s GOP pols, like Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, I may refer to Jack Palance’s Oscar-winning character in 1991’s “City Slickers.” At one point, he looked at Billy Crystal’s ignorant character and told him, “I crap bigger than you!” Then again, I may also refer to Michael Douglas’s commander-in-chief from 1995’s “The American President,” when he responded to his [opposition-party] opponent’s attacks. “I’ve been operating under the assumption that the reason […] devotes so much time and energy to shouting at the rain was that […] simply didn’t get it. Well, I was wrong. […’s] problem isn’t that […] doesn’t get it. […’s] problem is that […] can’t sell it.”

  8. Ronald August 29, 2013 6:53 pm

    WOW, D, what a fantastic doctoral dissertation on voting patterns you have produced here! 🙂

    I am absolutely amazed at your grasp of the information, and your ability to synthesize material, and I wonder if you are a fellow professor! LOL

    I cannot thank you enough for your wonderful contributions to this blog, and this one comes close to being the best and most insightful!

    And I had to laugh about someone who reads this blog who might refer to it in 2050! I would doubt that this blog will have that long range of an impact, but I can certainly say that you have had a magnificent role on this blog, and I deeply appreciate your efforts!

  9. Posse September 12, 2013 8:11 pm

    In this video recorded statement of Rev. Timothy Drayton, made in July 2013, he talks about what happened on August 5, 1966 when Bobby Williams, 18, died in a hail of gunfire from police shotguns. Twenty rounds of “00” buckshot and several .38 bullets were fired at him by four waiting detectives of the Sheriff’s Office. Bobby Williams had no criminal record … detectives said that he fired at them first but there was no gunpowder on his hands after the shooting … and no gun on him when he arrived … newly uncovered forensic evidence casts a new spotlight on the truth … and this video tells a story never before heard.

    See how a growing list of homicides are linked with newly uncovered information.

    Video statement of Rev. Timothy Drayton:


    more on the ‘links’ page of

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