Democrats’ Grip on the South Continues to Slip





JONESBORO, Ark. — The Southern white Democrat, long on the endangered list, is at risk of being pushed one step closer to extinction....

The swing has been under way since the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, when President Lyndon B. Johnson predicted that his fellow Democrats would face a backlash of white voters that would cost the party the South. It continued with Ronald Reagan’s election and reached a tipping point in the Republican sweep of 1994, with more than one-third of the victories coming from previously Democratic seats in the South.

This year, retirements of Democrats have left the party scrambling to retain four open seats in Arkansas and Tennessee that have been in their control for most of the last century. Those districts, along with others held by incumbents in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina, are central to the Republican strategy to win the House.

For the first time since Reconstruction, Republicans also are well-positioned to control more state legislative chambers and seats than Democrats in the South, which would have far-reaching effects for redistricting....



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