Thinking Politically

January 22, 2004 — Leave a comment

As I was reading a bit on Hugo’s site about his rekindled interest in John Edwards for president, I stumbled upon this comment by Dwight:

But while I am looking at Edwards more these days, I think the geography deal is oversold. It didn’t help Gephardt in Iowa being from a neighboring state. I wonder if campaigns are partially becoming more nationalized then in the past. Of course having never lived in the south, I might be off track with my thinking.

I, of course, live in the south. While there is a certain affinity for our own (you yankees talk funny…), the deeper reality is that the Republicanization of the south is pretty complete. For many years, the Democratic Party ruled supreme down here – – and it still does in many state legislatures. Certainly, the “Dixiecrats” maintained a strong presence in Washington for many years. But that was then. Now, as Al Gore learned in Tennessee, the Republicans captured the hearts and minds of many Southerners. Why? I’m not sure, but imagine that the financial growth of the South and the conservative religious heritage leading to social conservatism is primarily to blame.

So what does that mean for Edwards (and Clark to some degree, although most Southerners consider Arkansas as mid-western)? I think what Edwards will get is a hearing. That doesn’t assure his election, but I think folks might listen to him where they might not want to hear from Liebermann, Dean, or Kerry. Some of it depends on what part of the South you are talking about. The urban South is pretty nationalized and the southern heritage will mean less. But much of the south is still rural — and that accent makes a difference. He might get a hearing that the others might not get.

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