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Foreword Southern Politics and the 2008 Presidential Election 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” stood as a monument to de jure segregation, the politics of race, and the power of the Democratic Party over local, state, and national elections. Following the civil rights movement, however, the South’s transformation from the once solidly Democratic South to a consistently Republican region represents one of the most dramatic political changes in American political history. The wide-ranging effects of these developments on electoral behavior and public policy are difficult to assess, but it is unquestionable that the New South remains as important to American politics as the old. With 153 Electoral College votes, a solid South represents over half the necessary 270 electoral votes necessary to win the presidency. More than a decade ago, Black and Black concluded that “as the united South goes: so goes the nation” (1992, 344). Given the historical forces that have moved the South to act as a unified voting block, it is no coincidence that many of our recent presidents have hailed from one of the former Confederate states. In 2008, the surprising success of the first African American presidential candidate and the Democratic Party across several southern states suggests that the Republican dominance of the region may be in decline. Not only did several southern states support a northern liberal Democratic candidate, they supported the nation’s first African American presidential nominee. In a region better known for Jim Crow segregation than racial tolerance, such outcomes beg for scholarly investigation . Since the 1984 presidential election between then president Ronald Reagan and former vice president Walter Mondale, our colleagues at The Citadel have drawn attention to the importance of the South in presidential elections. Every four years, these scholars have facilitated important insights into presidential elections and this book series has not only advanced our systematic understanding of southern politics but has served as a catalyst for countless articles and books focusing on the politics of the region. In this 2008 edition of the series, so aptly titled A Paler xiii Shade of Red, we understand more clearly how Senator Obama and the Democratic Party successfully broke up the “Republican South.” Despite the “fifty state” campaign rhetoric from the Obama campaign, we find an extremely strategic and unique campaign strategy focusing resources on a few southern states while virtually ignoring others. Further, Obama’s emphasis on mobilizing new voters, particularly among minorities and young people, promises to have fundamentally, and perhaps permanently, changed the face of the southern electorate. Fittingly enough, Diane D. Blair was an important contributor to this series in the past. Consequently, it is not only appropriate but is also an exciting opportunity for the Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society to collaborate and sponsor this research endeavor. The Diane D. Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society The Blair Center was established by a congressionally appropriated endowment granted in the fall of 2001. The center is a part of only a handful of research centers across the nation established by congressional appropriation and one of the only centers established to honor an individual who was not a former member of Congress. The Blair Center is dedicated to supporting interdisciplinary scholarship, study, and outreach relevant to Arkansas and the southern states. Diane Divers Blair was born October 25, 1938, and was raised in Washington, D.C. She received her BA from Cornell University in 1959 and worked in Washington, D.C., for the President’s Committee on Government Contracts, a Senate committee on unemployment, and as legislative secretary and speechwriter for Sen. Stuart Symington of Missouri. She moved to Arkansas in 1963 and received her master’s degree in political science from the University of Arkansas in 1967. She debated Phyllis Schlafly before the Arkansas legislature on Valentine’s Day 1975 on behalf of the Equal Rights Amendment, and in 1992 she was selected to cast one of Arkansas ballots in the Electoral College. Mrs. Blair taught at the University of Arkansas for thirty years, established a record of accomplishment simply unparalleled in its combination of serious scholarship and practical involvement in both local and national politics. In May 2000, Mrs. Blair was awarded an honorary doctor of laws by the University of...

Additional Information

ISBN
9781610750035
Related ISBN
9781557289155
MARC Record
OCLC
769114785
Pages
360
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-11
Language
English
Open Access
No
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