A Paler Shade of Red
The 2008 Presidential Election in the South
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: University of Arkansas Press
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This volume is the seventh in a series of analysis of elections in the South beginning in 1984 and continuing in 1988, 1992, 1996, and 2000. A stateby- state study of the 2004 presidential election was not published in edited book form, but did appear in a special double issue of the American...
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The contemporary American South is one of the most rapidly changing regions in the country. Fundamental changes in population, economics, and partisanship have altered the political landscape of not only the region but the entire nation. Prior to the civil rights movement, the “solid south”...
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Scholars have developed many ways to gauge political change in the South and to describe that region’s contemporary political system. One approach is to examine electoral patterns inasmuch as these provide useful insights into the nature of partisan developments, group interaction and related power struggles, and evolving social and legal...
I. The Setting and the Nominating Process
1. The Continued Convergence of Demographics and Issues
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By any measure, the 2008 elections were unprecedented from a historic standpoint. After eight years of a Republican administration, voters were looking for a change. Since 1932, the Democrats and Republicans have succeeded in controlling the White House more than eight consecutive years on two occasions: the Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry...
2. The 2008 Presidential Nomination Process
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Well before the first vote was cast, it was apparent that the 2008 presidential nominations would be historic. For only the third time since 1968, the sitting president was not up for reelection. Moreover, for the first time in the post-reform era (and the first time since 1952), neither the sitting...
II. Elections in the Deep South
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The partisan forces that led to Democrat Barack Obama’s victory nationally had relatively little effect on the 2008 presidential election in Alabama. Neither the state’s partisan balance nor its general pattern of voting was substantially altered by the contest. Instead, the results of the 2008 presidential election largely confirmed the Republican leaning national-level...
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The national media focuses on the choices made in states thought to be critical to determining the outcome of elections. In November these are referred to as the swing or battleground states. In the primary selection process, the decisive states tend to come early in the sequence or, if they vote later, they are believed to be make or break for a candidate. In the closing days of the 2008 general election, Georgia found...
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For nearly four decades, voters in Louisiana have backed the winner of the presidential election, but in 2008 the state deviated from this trend, and the result was not even close. Republican John McCain led Democrat Barack Obama by double digits in polls throughout the summer and fall, and neither major party candidate invested significant amounts...
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Mississippi entered the 2008 federal elections with a political landscape that appeared more and more bleak for Democrats. Not since 1976 had a Democratic presidential candidate been able to carry the state, and even then only narrowly. Not since 1988 had Democrats been in control of one of the state’s United States Senate seats. Republican gains were also evident in state elections, with the GOP winning four of the last five...
7. South Carolina
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Traditionally, South Carolina has been governed by a rural-oriented, culturally and socially conservative aristocracy.1 The result is a difficult political context in which to have new ideas or find political support for them. The tendency since the post– Civil War strife has been for one party to dominate, beginning with the Democrats from the Civil War...
III. Elections in the Rim South
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Purplish-red Arkansas received a fair amount of attention compared to its southern neighbors in both 2000 and 2004. While George W. Bush ultimately carried Bill Clinton’s home state in both elections, he did so by only single digits. The 2008 presidential election once again found Arkansas...
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In 2008, Florida continued a record of having picked—with just the two exceptions of 1960 and 1992—the winner of the presidential election in every contest in the post–World War II era. Barack Obama’s victory underscored how competitive Florida has become in presidential elections since 1992, and that is a state that now seems a perennial “battleground...
10. North Carolina
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Reflecting electoral developments that were occurring in the South as a whole, North Carolina Republicans made great gains in the 1970s and 1980s, winning presidential, gubernatorial, and U.S. Senate elections for the first time in modern history. During these two decades, Republicans won four of the five presidential elections, four of the six Senate elections...
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Tennessee presents an interesting case when considering the 2008 election. Before the 2008 campaign, it had nearly elected to the U.S. Senate the first southern black senator since Reconstruction, Harold Ford Jr. Rep. Ford would provide a contrast to Barak Obama in the early days of the campaign. These comparisons arose based on Ford’s efforts...
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January 20, 2009, ushered in a new administration with the inauguration of Barack Obama, and to some, it ushered in a new political age. But in Texas, that date marked an end: the end to the Bush era in Texas politics. On that day, George W. Bush left office, returning to Texas to retire permanently from electoral politics. And for the first time since...
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Barack Obama’s victory in Virginia was a critical element in the Democrat’s electoral strategy. In position to win every state carried four years earlier by his party’s standard-bearer, the Illinois senator needed to add only fifteen electoral votes to prevail. Demographic and electoral trends highlighted a handful of states that offered particular promise...
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Fewer than forty-five years after Alabama governor George C. Wallace called for “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” the United States selected Barack Obama as the nation’s first African American president. Perhaps most astonishingly, Obama won in Florida and North Carolina, and had a particularly strong...
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Page Count: 360
Publication Year: 2009