The Republican South
Democratization and Partisan Change
This comprehensive and in-depth look at southern politics in the United States challenges conventional notions about the rise of the Republican Party in the South. David Lublin argues that the evolution of southern politics must be seen as part of a process of democratization of the region's politics. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 provided a sharp jolt forward in this process by greatly expanding the southern electorate.
Nevertheless, Democrats prevented Republicans from capitalizing rapidly on these changes. The overwhelming dominance of the region's politics by Democrats and their frequent adoption of conservative positions made it difficult for the GOP to attract either candidates or voters in many contests. However, electoral rules and issues gradually propelled the Democrats to the Left and more conservative white voters and politicians into the arms of the Republican Party.
Surprisingly, despite the racial turmoil of the civil rights era, economic rather than racial issues first separated Democrats from Republicans. Only later did racial and social issues begin to rival economic questions as a source of partisan division and opportunity for Republican politicians.
David Lublin is Associate Professor of Government in the School of Public Affairs at American University. He is the author of The Paradox of Representation: Racial Gerrymandering and Minority Interests in Congress (Princeton).