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Virginia, and 35 percent of white voters in North Carolina. Conversely, 10 percent of white voters in Alabama, 11 percent of white voters in Mississippi, and 14 percent of white voters in Louisiana cast ballots for Obama. What is less clear is whether whites made the decision to vote for Obama based on race. One way to begin to address this question is by comparing white support for Obama in 2008 to white support to Kerry in 2004. Figure C.7 shows the relationship between white support for Kerry and white support for Obama in each of the eleven southern states. There was substantially more white support for Obama than for Kerry in North Carolina, Virginia, and to a lesser extent in South Carolina. Arkansas, Louisiana, and Alabama had much less white support for Obama than the Kerry white vote would have predicted. Another way to address this question is by looking at the racial context in various states. According to the racial threat hypothesis, when whites are around higher percentages of blacks they are more likely to embrace racially charged opinions. This hypothesis has held up through 246 ★ H. Gibbs Knotts Figure C.7 Evidence of Racially Based Voting Source: Exit Poll Data from CNN.com Kerry White Vote 15 20 25 30 35 40 SC VA FL TN NC AR TX GA LA MS AL 40 30 20 10 Obama White Vote years of scrutiny, and the evidence suggests that racial context generally affects a range of political and policy positions.21 To investigate this hypothesis, Figure C.8 shows the percent of whites in each state supporting Obama compared to the percent black vote in that respective state. The line of best fit leads to some interesting findings about relationship between white support for Obama and the relative size of the black vote. In the upper left quadrant of Figure C.8, the line of best fit actually increases slightly, indicating that the white vote for Obama went up as the percent black vote increased. However, once a state has a percent black vote of about 15 percent, the line slopes downward dramatically. The four states with the highest percent black vote—Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, and Mississippi—also had the lowest white support for Obama. Looking Forward This broad view of the 2008 elections in the South uncovers good news for both Republicans and Democrats. Republicans can feel confident that Conclusion ★ 247 Figure C.8 Obama White Vote and Racial Context Source: Exit Poll Data from CNN.com Percent Black Vote 10 5 20 25 30 35 SC VA TN NC AR TX GA LA MS AL FL 40 30 20 10 Obama White Vote at the presidential and congressional levels, the region remains firmly aligned with the GOP. The South is the most Republican region in the country, and the gap in Republican presidential support between the South and non-South increased to its highest level in 2008. Republican congressional strength across the South is also quite strong and far exceeds support for Republicans outside the region. There is also evidence that in areas, with high black populations, which exist across the South, white support for Democratic candidates is generally low. The 2008 contest provides some positive signs for the Democrats as well. Although higher than in the rest of the country, the South’s support for McCain was down from the 2004 vote for Bush. Likewise, support for congressional Republicans in the South declined from a high in 2004. Increasing voter turnout in the South should also benefit the Democratic Party. Voter turnout in the South has continued to move closer to turnout outside the South, and southern voter turnout in 2008 was nearly identical to non-South turnout levels. High levels of population growth in the South should also improve Democratic prospects in the region. Democrats are generally doing better than Republicans in high-growth states and Republicans are generally doing better than Democrats in low-growth states. Finally, as southern states embrace the “new economy,” prospects for the Democrats should also increase. Another theme that emerges from this examination of the 2008 election is the clear lines of division across the Old Confederacy. A more moderate and progressive South exists in Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida. Democratic prospects in these states are strong, and the recent success of the Obama campaign means that Democratic candidates for the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate will likely be in friendly territory. More traditional...

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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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