An article in tomorrow’s NYT examines how “Losses in South May Erode Democrats’ Last Link to Center“.
In the new Congress, only 4 of the 22 senators from the 11 states of the old Confederacy will be Democrats, the lowest number since Reconstruction; as recently as 1990, 15 of those Southern senators were Democrats. In the House, the Democrats suffered smaller but still significant losses in Texas, where a Republican redistricting plan took down a group of veteran lawmakers, including the paradigmatic Southern conservative: Representative Charles W. Stenholm, a 13-term deficit hawk and longtime leader of the Blue Dog Democrats, a group of centrists in the House.
…”Our candidates were the ones people in the South feel comfortable with,” said Senator George Allen of Virginia, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. In Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina, the Republican Senate candidates carried two-thirds or more of the white vote, according to surveys of voters leaving the polls.
Professor Black of Emory University said: “Here’s the problem Democrats face in the South: They’ve lost the white conservatives. They’re now losing the younger, white moderate voters, who are now much more likely to be Republican than Democrat.”
Democrats can still win in many Southern states without a majority of the white vote, because they usually get such strong support from blacks, Professor Black noted. But they cannot prevail against such lopsided losses among whites.
What the article didn’t say is how the Dems plan to attract those younger, moderate voters. There isn’t a surefire plan when much of the region is polarized, with blue clusters of voters in many of the Southern states that still go Dem in local races. This is going to be the hot topic of discussion for many months as Dems (and bloggers) strategize whether to try to reclaim some of these Southern voters, or abandon the South to the GOP and work on the more libertarian bent of the Western states.