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Today’s number: 4.8 percent

Tuesday, Aug 12, 2014

* The New Republic

“The realignment of the parties in the South following the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s has created a reality in which today most African American voters are Democrats and most white conservative voters are Republicans.”

That means that, as Democrats have lost ground in statehouses in Alabama and elsewhere across the South, so have African Americans.

According to research by David Bositis, in 1994, 99.5 percent of black state legislators in the South served in the majority. By 2010, the percentage had fallen to 50.5. Today, it’s a mere 4.8 percent.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


29 Comments
  1. - Jimmy CrackCorn - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 9:24 am:

    D’s really need to find a new John Edwards-type that they can put on the national stage. Not sure there is anyone in the bullpen though.
    They aren’t going to flip the southern states blue in a Presidential/Gubernatorial election. But they can at least reclaim some grip on redistricting and have a chance at winning the house in the next decade.


  2. - VM - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 9:46 am:

    But oh, the conservatives claim that the Democratic Party is the party that hurts African Americans — look at the (Southern) Democrats that voted against the Civil Rights Act.

    Apparently, according to their theory, the same white racists (and their progeny) that are now Republicans left for reasons that have nothing to do with civil rights. I suppose that somehow they got enlightened about race issues and moved to the Republican Party, rather than the Republican Party moving its platform to oppose civil rights. Because, you know, Nixon’s Southern Strategy never happened.


  3. - walker - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 9:50 am:

    D’s lost a lot of statehouses in 2010. Looks like most of them in the South.


  4. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 9:52 am:

    –D’s really need to find a new John Edwards-type that they can put on the national stage.–

    Maybe not so much a John Edwards-type, lol.

    Down in Dixie, they’ve got the art and science of the gerrymander down pretty cold, too.


  5. - VM - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 9:54 am:

    Because I read the Capitol Fax blog before I read the NY Times (make of that what you will, Rich), I did not include this link to make the point about the conservative claim that African Americans should be Republicans because Democrats opposed civil rights:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/12/opinion/can-the-gop-ever-attract-black-voters.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region&region=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region&_r=0


  6. - Under Further Review - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 9:55 am:

    I am not denying that Nixon utilized a “Southern” strategy, but it is worth noting that Alabama Governor George Wallace, who was a third party candidate in 1968, had been a segregationist Democrat.

    I took exception to the notion that African American and white voters realigned politically due to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The African American voters switched their party preferences twenty-five to thirty years earlier.
    “Big Bill” Thompson, Chicago’s last Republican mayor, received substantial support from African American voters in almost all of his citywide campaigns. A decade after he left office, following an election in which he carried the African American vote while losing to Anton Cermak, Democratic candidates were carrying African American precincts in Chicago.


  7. - fed up - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 9:59 am:

    Down in Dixie, they’ve got the art and science of the gerrymander down pretty cold, too.

    Really, someone from Illinois is going to talk Gerrymandering. Talk about glass houses and stone throwing.


  8. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 10:00 am:

    That means that, as Democrats have lost ground in statehouses in Alabama and elsewhere across the South, so have African Americans.

    Because we all know how great things were in Alabama for African Americans when the Democrats were in control between 1832-1972, right?


  9. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 10:04 am:

    –Because we all know how great things were in Alabama for African Americans when the Democrats were in control between 1832-1972, right?–

    That’s an incredibly, willfully ignorant statement. Because the parties have kind of changed a little bit, haven’t they?


  10. - Jimmy CrackCorn - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 10:04 am:

    ==Maybe not so much a John Edwards-type, lol.==

    Well I was going to say Bill Clinton type, but we run into the same issue.Ha. But you know what I mean… white, photogenic, populist, with a poverty agenda that people voting against their self-interest can wrap their heads around.


  11. - VM - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 10:20 am:

    @Under Further Review: I think you are right about realignment in the North going back to FDR, although that was based largely on civil rights. It gets complicated at that time in the North because the Republican Party was split between supporters of civil rights and those who opposed civil rights all the way until 1968. For example, in 1964 the platform was pro-civil rights, but the candidate voted against the Civil Rights Act.

    In the South, though, African Americans were solidly Republican in local races until the 1960s. The article Rich quotes is talking about the South, not the North, so I wasn’t really precise in delineating the difference.


  12. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 10:24 am:

    That means that, as Democrats have lost ground in statehouses in Alabama and elsewhere across the South, so have African Americans.

    He means to claim that African Americans are worse off in the South today, than they were when the Democrats were in total control?


  13. - Federalist - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 10:35 am:

    From my reading of history, there were two big realignments in voting patterns.

    First, FDR. With and after him many Blacks went Democratic much more than before.

    Second, after the civil rights legislation in the 1960’s the White South went increasingly, and in electoral terms, almost solid Republican. This seems to have happened in the North also but to a much lesser extent.


  14. - walker - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 10:45 am:

    =”Lost ground”= versus 1994, or 2010, if you read the article. [not vs. Jim Crow Dems pre-1960s]

    Got those partisan spectacles firmly focused?

    Word’s “willfully ignorant statement” captures it, though we appreciate yours most of the time.


  15. - Sunshine - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 11:01 am:

    Perhaps the black voter is starting to realize that the Democrats have actually held them back economically by diminishing their desire to achieve on their own?

    Seems that I have heard many talk about starting to realize just how social programs can be a double edged sword if the one edge gives and the other creates dependence upon the system. May explain why many are moving away from the Democrat party?


  16. - A guy... - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 11:01 am:

    ===wordslinger - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 10:04 am:

    –Because we all know how great things were in Alabama for African Americans when the Democrats were in control between 1832-1972, right?–

    That’s an incredibly, willfully ignorant statement. Because the parties have kind of changed a little bit, haven’t they?===

    Slinger, acknowledging the changes, it’s hard to consider that Democrats have done much more than take their votes for granted since many of those changes took place. “Willfully ignorant” is too strong a statement, even for you.


  17. - RonOglesby - Now in TX - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 11:04 am:


    Down in Dixie, they’ve got the art and science of the gerrymander down pretty cold, too.

    I don’t know, I think some states in the north (like Illinois) can sure give them a run for their money!


  18. - Anon - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 11:08 am:

    Here’s the key quote from the NYT article that VM linked to:

    “The party that hopes to attract black students is the party whose congressional leadership filed a baseless lawsuit against the first African-American president. It is the party whose representatives allied with birthers who demanded that the president prove his citizenship. It is the party that has endorsed the evisceration of the Voting Rights Act and made it more difficult for the very people it is courting to actually cast a ballot for its candidates. Senator Paul himself has expressed ambivalence about enforcing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”


  19. - Anon - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 11:10 am:

    Party realignment got momentum in 1948 when the Democrats adopted Hubert Humphrey’s civil rights plank, the Dixiecrats walked out, and Strom Thurmond ran for president. Strom later joined the GOP, as did most conservative southern Democrats.


  20. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 11:11 am:

    - it’s hard to consider that Democrats have done much more than take their votes for granted -

    Are you implying that, for the most part, African American voters are stupid? That they can’t tell who is representing their best interests?

    You see a lot of democrats proposing ways to make voting more difficult?


  21. - walker - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 11:14 am:

    Let’s be real. Gerrymandering has been endemic to American politics, since our country was founded. For all I know, some American colonies did it too, when picking governing bodies. It exists right now in almost every state, if you look at the maps, even some created by so-called independent bodies.


  22. - A guy... - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 11:33 am:

    === Anonymous - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 11:11 am:

    - it’s hard to consider that Democrats have done much more than take their votes for granted -

    Are you implying that, for the most part, African American voters are stupid? That they can’t tell who is representing their best interests?

    You see a lot of democrats proposing ways to make voting more difficult?====

    No, not in the least. I’m “implying” that most African Americans are actually hopeful. They’ve received more attention from Democrats and have been more loyal to them. I’m more than implying, I’m stating, that Democrats have taken this voting bloc for granted. Republicans need to do a far better job reaching out to the Black Community (and others). If you’ve noticed, Rauner has been doing a lot of this. Our message is to preach about offering opportunities to seize. We need to get much, much better at it. You want to play the race game Anonymous. I’m not biting. There are great examples growing every day of African Americans succeeding and building equity in the American Dream. There’s not nearly enough focus on those examples. Allowing high crime to victimize families, poor education choices and constant temptation from outlaw gangs is cheating our fellow citizens. I would argue that the Democratic approach (well intentioned!) has been to treat the symptoms and ignore the base problems of poverty and repression. There’s a better way. It needs foundational change. You can’t promise a little bit today to ignore a more difficult path that guarantees a better more sustainable tomorrow.

    Committing to a steady long term plan has never been a strength in politics, but it’s the only way to change things with generational mileposts we must achieve.


  23. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    ===I’m more than implying, I’m stating, that Democrats have taken this voting bloc for granted. Republicans need to do a far better job reaching out to the Black Community (and others).===

    “The incident was in no way isolated. Under the leadership of Hubbard and Marsh, Alabama Republicans have jammed through numerous pieces of legislation with no Democratic input, or even debate. There was the anti-illegal-immigration bill that, among other things, required public schools to determine students’ immigration status, barred illegal immigrants from enrolling in any public college after high school, and made it a crime to knowingly rent a home to an illegal immigrant. (Much of the law was later overturned in federal courts.) There was the legislation that mandated that Alabamans show photo identification in order to vote. There was the anti-abortion bill that would have forced three of the state’s five abortion clinics to close. (In early August, a federal judge rejected the law as unconstitutional.) There was the piece of legislation that dramatically loosened provisions on firearms and another that contained sweeping new welfare restrictions, including mandatory drug-testing for recipients with a narcotics conviction. Meanwhile, statehouse Republicans successfully blocked Democratic bills seeking to require Governor Robert Bentley to accept the federal government’s offer, as part of the Affordable Care Act, to expand Medicaid in the state.”

    I suspect some of the commenters haven’t read the article. Yes, A Guy, Republicans need to do a FAR better job of reaching out.


  24. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    It shifted once, and it is shifting again.

    Locally that does not necessarily mean towards Illinois Republicans, but away from Illinois Democrats.


  25. - VM - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 12:08 pm:

    @Sunshine:

    “May explain why many [African Americans] are moving away from the Democrat party?”

    I don’t think there’s much of a factual basis for that statement.


  26. - justthefacts - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 12:51 pm:

    It is worth noting that the president who signed civil rights legislation into law was a Southern Democrat. Would Goldwater have signed that bill? That should answer your question.


  27. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 1:29 pm:

    Yeah, A Guy, those black voters just don’t know what’s good for them. Hard to believe they’re not just flocking to the Dixie GOP.


  28. - A guy... - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 2:08 pm:

    == wordslinger - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 1:29 pm:

    Yeah, A Guy, those black voters just don’t know what’s good for them. Hard to believe they’re not just flocking to the Dixie GOP.===

    Never said anything close to that. Kind of a putzy response there. They’ve been over-promised and under-delivered for decades. They know what’s good for them, they’re just having a very difficult time achieving it within either party structure. You want to argue it, let’s go. But, I’ll choose my own words. Just as you do without my objection.


  29. - Sunshine - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 8:40 pm:

    VM, would love to hear the facts as you see them?? Please, enlighten us all.


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