Deep South 1948-1960: Unlike the Outer South, the Deep South (Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and the Carolinas) actually took longer to move into the Republican column. Contrary to popular belief, they didn’t need the help of third party candidacies. While all the Deep South-except for North Carolina-voted for Strom Thurmond over Harry Truman, this was not, as is often reported, South Carolina leading the South into the Republican Party. In 1952 all Deep South states voted Democrat (the only ones in whole US, aside from West Virginia, to do so).
Indeed, from 1952-1960 only one Deep South state voted Republican: Louisiana in 1956. (Mississippi gave more popular votes to Kennedy than Nixon in 1960, but gave it’s electoral votes to non-candidate Harry Bryd (a segregationist Va. Senator). Still, aside from the Louisiana exception, the Deep South remained Democrat despite the Thurmond insurgency and the growing support of Democrats for blacks and vice versa.
1964- 1972: The turning point year for the Deep South was in 1964. After the activism of the Kennedy (and early LBJ) Administration, the Deep South shifted from virtually all Democrat in 1952-60 to virtually all Republican in 1964. Only NC voted for LBJ in 1964, and probably would not have done so without the black vote that year. None of the Deep South Goldwater states were close. Aside from Arizona, the Deep South states were the only states to vote for Goldwater.
The Republican dilemma in the South was the inability to carry both the Outer and Deep South at the same time! In 1968 it looked promising for the GOP, only to see third party candidate George Wallace win 5 Deep South states while the Carolinas went to Nixon. Finally in 1972, Nixon swept both regions of the South. Still, without Wallace Nixon would’ve accomplished this in 1968. Remember, the southern Wallace vote would’ve split 80%-20% for Nixon. Given that and the fact the Democrats came in third place behind Wallace and Nixon in most of the South, it is a cinch to assume that Nixon would’ve swept these states along with the Outer South in 1968.
1976 to present: The first southerner nominated by a major party since before the Civil War, Jimmy Carter swept the Deep South in 1976. Outside the Bicentennial election, though, the GOP has almost always swept the Deep South. On only four occasions have any Deep South states voted Democrat since the 1970s. Georgia voted for Carter in 1980 (the only state in the entire South to do so, suggesting Georgians were simply voting for one of their own). Georgia voted for Clinton in 1992, but with less than 40% of the vote.
In 1996 Clinton recieved a greater number and percentage of the vote than in 1992-and still lost the state to Bob Dole. This suggests that 1992 was a Perot anomaly. Louisana voted for Clinton in 1992 and 1996. Only in 1996, however, did Clinton win a majority of the vote in La. (running against a man who lost the Louisiana Republican primary-to Pat Buchanan!). Whether or not Clinton wins La. without Perot in 1992 is hard to tell. Perot voters would’ve had to split 2 to 1 pro-Republican for Clinton to lose it. A good, but by no means definite, possibility. Of course in 2000 Clinton campaigned for Gore-and Gore lost the state in a landslide (though certainly not all the blame for that can be laid at Clinton’s feet).
So the phenomena of either Southern region voting Republican precedes 1968 (sometimes by over a decade). Understanding that you need to know where you came from to know where your going I present the following summary:
I can’t say for sure where the South is going in the future, but at least now Democrats can analyze their weakest region with a full understanding of recent and not-so-recent history there.