Work in Progress

Baseball, Seminary, Wrestling, and the Dreams and Days of one Mike Work's Angeles experience

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Southern voting trends

There are major elections in November; at this point, I am unsure as to whether I will register in California or in Georgia. While contemplating, I made use of the Interactive Election Map of the LA Times, and spun out the archives, and the voting trends for the past century.

In the 1856 election, James Buchanan received the majority of his support in the south, which he proceeded to allow to secede. Among those states was my designated home state, Georgia, which would then vote for the Democratic candidate in every election from 1868 to 1960 (including Al Smith in 1928), as did the majority of the south. In '64, five southern states swung towards Goldwater, and while SC went Nixon in '68, Arkansas joined Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia in supporting Alabama governor George Wallace, noted segregationist.

After the heated civil rights battles of the 1960s, Richard Nixon's landslide victory as an incumbent in 1972 saw the first Georgian electoral votes cast for a republican in over a century, followed in 1984 and 1988 by Reagan/Bush wins (I leave out 1976 and 1980's D-votes due to the Jimmy Carter/home state factor). Bill Clinton's campaign in 1992 worked, as he made a dent in the south, beating Bush Sr. in GA, TN, LA, and his home state of AK; yet in 1996, Georgia went back to the republican side, where it remained in the 2000 election, and where Bush was up 13 points in the polls as of a month ago.

As for California, this so-called 'liberal hotbed,' with the exception of a 1968 vote for LBJ, actually swung Republican in every election from 1952-88 (of course, 1964, 1980, and 1984 were such landslides that this may not say much about the state in particular, moreso the nation). Yet in the 1990s, the Clinton/Gore ticket gained Californian support, which continues this year, as Kerry holds a similar 13 point lead here as of last month.

So this stark polarization that we see now isn't so ingrained...and oftentimes the parties have been reversed. Does this make the decision simpler? Not really, but it is fascinating to examine, and has me itching to break out my HIST 400 notes from last year (American Political History from post-WWII to 1980, with a focus on JFK and Watergate).


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