Sunday, November 07, 2010

election nearly wipes out southern democrats

WaPo | The white Southern Democrat - endangered since the 1960s civil rights era - is sliding nearer to extinction.

After this week's elections, the Democratic Party barely holds a presence in the region outside of majority-black urban areas such as Atlanta and Memphis. The carnage for the party was particularly brutal in the Deep South, where just one white Democrat survived across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

The Republicans' effort to win over the South, rooted decades ago in a strategy to capitalize on white voters' resentment of desegregation, is all but complete.

"Right now in most of Dixie it is culturally unacceptable to be a Democrat. It's a damn shame, but that's the way it is," said Dave "Mudcat" Saunders, a campaign strategist for conservative Democrats such as Jim Webb of Virginia, one of the few remaining Southern Democratic senators.

The losses were particularly disappointing for the party after the baby steps it made in the South in 2006 and 2008, when it picked up a host of Republican-leaning House districts and won Senate seats in North Carolina and Virginia. Many thought the party had learned its lessons and had begun to reverse recent history by nominating conservative candidates who hit the right notes on divisive social issues such as abortion and smaller government.

The setback continues a four-decade decline for Democrats in the South, where they once dominated. The slide began after the civil rights movement, when Republicans under President Richard Nixon began employing a Southern strategy to retake the region by appealing to white anger over desegregation. The GOP later highlighted liberal Democratic positions on social and welfare issues. Fist tap Nana.