The Left’s Southern Article of Faith Collides with the Data.

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The Left's Southern Article of Faith Collides with the Data.

If you are even slightly a left­ist such as the folks I cov­ered on the Boston Com­mon this week­end one of the things that you believe with­out ques­tion is that the only rea­son why the GOP has con­trol of leg­is­la­tures in the south is because of a back­lash over the civil rights act of 1964 and the vot­ing rights act of 1965.
This has been an arti­cle of faith for years and it’s quite handy when you want to explain away uncom­fort­able elec­toral defeats. Why woo vot­ers when you can sim­ply cry “racism”.

It’s an easy to sell argu­ment, after all the pre 1964 south was called the solid south for a rea­son. Through 1892 no for­mer slave state (includ­ing bor­der states) voted for a GOP pres­i­den­tial can­di­date. No state of the old con­fed­er­acy voted GOP post recon­struc­tion till Ten­nessee voted Hard­ing 1920. Through 1955 when the fight for civil rights started loom­ing large the GOP only man­aged to take states in the old con­fed­er­acy two more times once when Eisen­hower after win­ning World War to man­aged to take Texas, Ten­nessee, Florida, Vir­ginia and once in the Her­bert Hoover land­slide of 1928 that added North Car­olina to that list.

But the real power of the Democ­rats in the south wasn’t in pres­i­den­tial elec­tions where they were out­num­bered. It was in the state leg­is­la­tures, where, with the excep­tion of Mis­souri which was pretty com­pet­i­tive in the first half of the 20th cen­tury A repub­li­can speaker of the House in the old south and most of the old slave states (I’m miss­ing data for Delaware) just didn’t exist.

And then came Demo­c­rat Lyn­don Baines Johnson

In 1957 John­son in an effort “san­i­tize” him­self on civil rights for a pres­i­den­tial run pushed through the first civil rights bill post recon­struc­tion. When he became pres­i­dent after JFK’s mur­der in 1963 he man­aged to get the Civil Rights act of 1964 passed doing so with only 8 votes from the old con­fed­er­acy in the house and none in the sen­ate, he fol­lowed that up with the Vot­ing Rights act in 1965 and declar­ing that he would secure the black vote for Democ­rats for the next 2 cen­turies (although he used some­what dif­fer­ent phras­ing describ­ing the black vote, employ­ing a word rhyming with “trigger”).

It is at this point that accord­ing to our friends on the left that the old solid racist south (includ­ing many of the slave hold­ing bor­der states) decided to aban­don the Demo­c­rat party and started vot­ing GOP

How­ever there is one prob­lem that stands in the way of that argu­ment: The facts.

As Tip O’Neill once said all pol­i­tics is local and noth­ing bet­ter reflects the feel­ings of a local elec­torate than a vote for a state leg­is­la­tor. So if the left’s meme is to be believed it shouldn’t have taken for than a few two year elec­tion cycles for a com­bi­na­tion of mass defec­tions and out­raged old racists to fill the south with GOP speak­ers in their houses. So let’s take a look at a chart that lists all the old slave­hold­ing states and see how quickly those racist south­ern­ers and old seg­re­ga­tion­ists man­aged to flip their states to their new favorite party.

[table “” not found /]

As you can see when the data is pre­sented the left’s arti­cle of faith runs smack dab of a fac­tual cliff.

With the excep­tion of a two year period of in Ten­nessee when a demo­c­rat defec­tor gave the GOP the house for one term, No state of the old con­fed­er­acy elected a GOP house until 1995 and even with that hap­pened in North and South Car­olina, North Car­olina flipped back to the Democ­rats the very next elec­tion and stayed there until 2011.

Of those states only one other (Florida) joined South Car­olina as a solid GOP state in the 20th cen­tury five of the states flipped this decade. And think about it. If you believe our friends on the left then Alabama the state where Mar­tin Luther King wrote is famous Let­ter from a Birm­ing­ham Jail and Mis­sis­sippi the state where the famous case of the mur­der of civil rights work­ers dra­ma­tized in the film Mis­sis­sippi Burn­ing took place in the 60’s were so appar­ently so out­raged over the Civil Rights act, the Vot­ing Rights act and LBJ that their vot­ers they waited nearly 2 12 gen­er­a­tions to vote GOP.

That’s sim­ply not credible.

Now as this is such an arti­cle faith for our Demo­c­rat friends they will sooner imag­ine armies of ancient seg­re­ga­tion­ists bussed from Nurs­ing Homes on elec­tion day each years than believe the data.

Because there is a much more cred­i­ble expla­na­tion as to why the left is los­ing the South that’s star­ing them in the face but that’s a post for later this week.

Update: Heard back from the Delaware leg­isla­tive librar­ian 921. She was out on Fri­day but when she got back she kindly pro­vided me both house and sen­ate info from 1965 to present that I’ve used to update my table. Many Thanks


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If you are even slightly a leftist such as the folks I covered on the Boston Common this weekend one of the things that you believe without question is that the only reason why the GOP has control of legislatures in the south is because of a backlash over the civil rights act of 1964 and the voting rights act of 1965.
This has been an article of faith for years and it’s quite handy when you want to explain away uncomfortable electoral defeats. Why woo voters when you can simply cry “racism”.

It’s an easy to sell argument, after all the pre 1964 south was called the solid south for a reason. Through 1892 no former slave state (including border states) voted for a GOP presidential candidate. No state of the old confederacy voted GOP post reconstruction till Tennessee voted Harding 1920. Through 1955 when the fight for civil rights started looming large the GOP only managed to take states in the old confederacy two more times once when Eisenhower after winning World War to managed to take Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Virginia and once in the Herbert Hoover landslide of 1928 that added North Carolina to that list.

But the real power of the Democrats in the south wasn’t in presidential elections where they were outnumbered. It was in the state legislatures, where, with the exception of Missouri which was pretty competitive in the first half of the 20th century A republican speaker of the House in the old south and most of the old slave states (I’m missing data for Delaware) just didn’t exist.

And then came Democrat Lyndon Baines Johnson

In 1957 Johnson in an effort “sanitize” himself on civil rights for a presidential run pushed through the first civil rights bill post reconstruction. When he became president after JFK’s murder in 1963 he managed to get the Civil Rights act of 1964 passed doing so with only 8 votes from the old confederacy in the house and none in the senate, he followed that up with the Voting Rights act in 1965 and declaring that he would secure the black vote for Democrats for the next 2 centuries (although he used somewhat different phrasing describing the black vote, employing a word rhyming with “trigger”).

It is at this point that according to our friends on the left that the old solid racist south (including many of the slave holding border states) decided to abandon the Democrat party and started voting GOP

However there is one problem that stands in the way of that argument: The facts.

As Tip O’Neill once said all politics is local and nothing better reflects the feelings of a local electorate than a vote for a state legislator. So if the left’s meme is to be believed it shouldn’t have taken for than a few two year election cycles for a combination of mass defections and outraged old racists to fill the south with GOP speakers in their houses. So let’s take a look at a chart that lists all the old slaveholding states and see how quickly those racist southerners and old segregationists managed to flip their states to their new favorite party.

Southern State House Conversion Table

StateYear GOP took State
House of Representatives
Number of years from passage of 1964 Civil rights act till solid GOP Control
West Virgina201450
Alabama 2011 47
Arkansas 201349
Delaware (1) 19695
Florida
199733
Georgia
2005 41
Louisiana 200844

MarylandNevern/a
Mississippi201248
Missouri200339
North Carolina (2)1995/201131/47
South Carolina199531
Tennessee (3)1969/20095/45
Texas200339
Virginia200036
(1) Was only able to find data from 1998 to present online called Delaware Legislature for info but nobody available knew legislative balance & librarian never called back. GOP controlled house from 1998-2009 UPDATE Heard from librarian Monday who provided house ( & Senate Info from 1965 to present. Basically GOP took house in 1969 & held it till 1975 Dems held it till 1988 except for one term (81-82) and then the GOP won it back holding it till the Obama Landslide when Demorats took the control that they still hold.

Interesting note, The only period where GOP held the Delaware Senate since 1965 was 1969-1974

(2) The GOP took the North Carolina House for a single term in 1995 then promptly lost it again till 2011
(3) In 1969 the House was split. A Democrat defection gave the GOP the house for the first time since reconstruction. They promptly lost it in the next election and didn't get it back till 2009

As you can see when the data is presented the left’s article of faith runs smack dab of a factual cliff.

With the exception of a two year period of in Tennessee when a democrat defector gave the GOP the house for one term, No state of the old confederacy elected a GOP house until 1995 and even with that happened in North and South Carolina, North Carolina flipped back to the Democrats the very next election and stayed there until 2011.

Of those states only one other (Florida) joined South Carolina as a solid GOP state in the 20th century five of the states flipped this decade. And think about it. If you believe our friends on the left then Alabama the state where Martin Luther King wrote is famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail and Mississippi the state where the famous case of the murder of civil rights workers dramatized in the film Mississippi Burning took place in the 60’s were so apparently so outraged over the Civil Rights act, the Voting Rights act and LBJ that their voters they waited nearly 2 1/2 generations to vote GOP.

That’s simply not credible.

Now as this is such an article faith for our Democrat friends they will sooner imagine armies of ancient segregationists bussed from Nursing Homes on election day each years than believe the data.

Because there is a much more credible explanation as to why the left is losing the South that’s staring them in the face but that’s a post for later this week.

Update:  Heard back from the Delaware legislative librarian 9/21.  She was out on Friday but when she got back she kindly provided me both house and senate info from 1965 to present that I’ve used to update my table.  Many Thanks


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