More Than One South: Outer vs. Deep Pt. 2

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:

  • 1900-1948: Outer and Deep South vote Democrat.
  • 1952-64: One region votes strongly Republican (usually the more populous Outer South) while the other goes Democrat.
  • 1968 or 1972-present- Except for 1976 anomaly, both regions vote Republican (almost always unanimously).
    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.
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    About Nick

    Teacher of Social Studies. Born in the 1970s. History major, music minor. Big Baseball fan. Economic progressive.
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    5 Responses to More Than One South: Outer vs. Deep Pt. 2

    1. Andy Witmyer says:

      Ths has been an extremely interesting read. Thanks for sharing this, Nick. It’s well written and the facts are presented neatly.

    2. Nick

      You sure do know your history! 😉

      I hope the Republicans have a dilema all across the country this year!

    3. battlebob says:

      Thanks a lot for the superb research.
      Now for the big question….
      Do Dems need to pour scare resources into the entire South, or choose either the near or deep south or perhaps pick and choose states (Fl for instance)?

      I still like your earlier research which essentially says to the South go ahead and leave the Union as you are more trouble then you are worth and a financial sink hole.

    4. Nick says:

      To all: Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it.


      Yeah, your probably right. I would still target Florida if only because it’s voter rich and has swung at leat partially (i.e. former safe GOP now GOP-leaning swing state). Maybe also do some party buildig in Texas for when the newly arrived Hispanics become citizens and can register. Other than that heck with it. While Florida is worth 13 more Evs than in the 1960s (and Texas is worth 9 more) the rest of the South has only seen a net gain of 1! EV since the 1960s. Va. gained one, NC 2, and Ga. 3. Meanwhile, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Lousiana, Mississippi, and Alabama each lost one EV since the 60s. The rest of the Southsernc states are worth the same Evs that they wre when Goldwater and Nixon ran-and still vote the same way.

    5. Nick says:


      I said that except for NC (which voted for Truman) all the Deep South voted for Strom Thurmond in 1948. Georgia also voted for Truman in 1948-not for ole Strom