Should Democrats forget the South? | Arkansas Blog

Friday, June 23, 2006

Should Democrats forget the South?

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2006 at 11:25 AM

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Today's news of fast-growing suburban populations in Arkansas fits well with an ongoing debate happening within the Democratic Party:

Should Democrats try to reclaim the South, or should they just give up on the whole region and try to build an electoral majority elsewhere?

Thomas Schaller, a college professor who will publish a new book called "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South," dismisses the idea "that rural, white, Christian, noncollege-educated, married male voters are the key to Democratic resurgence in a country where women, suburban-exurbanites, seculars, college graduates, the unmarried, and minorities become a larger share of the electorate with each passing cycle."

He thinks Democrats should "build a non-southern majority, govern confidently and successfully, and then appeal to the South, the nation’s most rural, poor, and conservative region. This approach is essentially how Bill Clinton, the first Democratic president since the Civil War to win a higher share of the vote outside the South than inside, won and governed."

But Clinton was from the South, and his electoral college majorities in 1992 and 1996 included several Southern states.

It wasn't long ago that Republicans were thought to have no chance of winning elections in the traditionally Democratic South. So why would the Democrats even think about conceding the region?

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