Southern Democrats

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Southern Democrats are members of the U.S. Democratic Party who reside in the Southern United States.[1]

Before the American Civil War, Southern Democrats were mostly white men living in the South who believed in Jacksonian democracy. In the 19th century, they defended slavery in the United States and promoted its expansion into the Western United States against the Free Soil opposition in the Northern United States. The United States presidential election of 1860 formalized the split in the Democratic Party and brought about the American Civil War.[2] After the Reconstruction Era ended in the late 1870s, so-called redeemers were Southern Democrats who controlled all the southern states and disenfranchised African-Americans.

The monopoly that the Democratic Party held over most of the South showed signs of breaking apart in 1948, when many white Southern Democrats--upset by the policies of desegregation enacted during the administration of Democratic President Harry Truman--created the States Rights Democratic Party. This new party, commonly referred to as the "Dixiecrats", nominated South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond for president. The new party collapsed after Truman won the 1948 election.

Despite being a Southern Democrat himself, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.[3] These actions led to heavy opposition from Southern Democrats.[4][5] Following the passage of civil rights legislation, many white southerners switched to the Republican Party at the national level. Many scholars have stated that southern whites shifted to the Republican Party due to racial backlash and social conservatism.[6][7][8] By the 21st century, and especially after the 2010 midterm elections, the GOP had gained a solid advantage over the Democratic Party in most southern states.[9] Southern Democrats of the 21st century tend to be more progressive than their predecessors.[10]

History[edit]

1828–1861[edit]

The title of "Democrat" has its beginnings in the South, going back to the founding of the Democratic-Republican Party in 1793 by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. It held to small government principles and distrusted the national government. Foreign policy was a major issue. After being the dominant party in U.S. politics from 1801 to 1829, the Democratic-Republicans split into two factions by 1828: the federalist National Republicans, and the Democrats. The Democrats and Whigs were evenly balanced in the 1830s and 1840s. However, by the 1850s, the Whigs disintegrated. Other opposition parties emerged but the Democrats were dominant. Northern Democrats were in serious opposition to Southern Democrats on the issue of slavery; Northern Democrats, led by Stephen Douglas, believed in Popular Sovereignty—letting the people of the territories vote on slavery. The Southern Democrats, reflecting the views of the late John C. Calhoun, insisted slavery was national.

The Democrats controlled the national government from 1853 until 1861, and presidents Pierce and Buchanan were friendly to Southern interests. In the North, the newly formed anti-slavery Republican Party came to power and dominated the electoral college. In the 1860 presidential election, the Republicans nominated Abraham Lincoln, but the divide among Democrats led to the nomination of two candidates: John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky represented Southern Democrats, and Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois represented Northern Democrats. Nevertheless, the Republicans had a majority of the electoral vote regardless of how the opposition split or joined and Abraham Lincoln was elected.

1861–1933[edit]

Arkansas voted Democratic in all 23 presidential elections from 1876 through 1964; other states were not quite as solid but generally supported Democrats for president.

After the election of Abraham Lincoln, Southern Democrats led the charge to secede from the Union and establish the Confederate States. The United States Congress was dominated by Republicans, save for Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, the only senator from a state in rebellion to reject secession. The Border States of Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri were torn by political turmoil. Kentucky and Missouri were both governed by pro-secessionist Southern Democratic Governors who vehemently rejected Lincoln's call for 75,000 troops. Kentucky and Missouri both held secession conventions, but neither officially declared secession. Southern Democrats in Maryland faced a Unionist Governor Thomas Holliday Hicks and the Union Army. Armed with the suspension of habeas corpus and Union troops, Governor Hicks was able to stop Maryland's secession movement. Maryland was the only state south of the Mason–Dixon line whose governor affirmed Lincoln's call for 75,000 troops.

After secession, the Democratic vote in the North split between the War Democrats and the Peace Democrats or "Copperheads". The War Democrats voted for Lincoln in the 1864 election, and Lincoln had a War Democrat — Andrew Johnson — on his ticket. In the South, during Reconstruction the White Republican element, called "Scalawags" became smaller and smaller as more and more joined the Democrats. In the North, most War Democrats returned to the Democrats, and when the "Panic of 1873" hit, the GOP was blamed and the Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives in 1875. The Democrats emphasized that since Jefferson and Jackson they had been the party of states rights, which added to their appeal in the White South.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Democrats, led by the dominant Southern wing, had a strong representation in Congress. They won both houses in 1912 and elected Woodrow Wilson, a New Jersey academic with deep Southern roots and a strong base among the Southern middle class. The GOP regained Congress in 1919. Southern Democrats held powerful positions in Congress during the Wilson Administration, with one study noting “Though comprising only about half of the Democratic senators and slightly over two-fifths of the Democratic representatives, the southerners made up a large majority of the party’s senior members in the two houses. They exerted great weight in the two Democratic caucuses and headed almost all of the important congressional committees.”[11]

From 1896 to 1912 and 1921 to 1931, the Democrats were relegated to second place status in national politics and didn't control a single branch of the federal government despite universal dominance in most of the "Solid South." In 1928 several Southern states dallied with voting Republican in supporting Herbert Hoover over the Roman Catholic Al Smith, but the behavior was short lived as the Stock Market Crash of 1929 returned Republicans to disfavor throughout the South. Nationally, Republicans lost Congress in January 1931 and the White House in March 1933 by huge margins. By this time, too, the Democratic Party leadership began to change its tone somewhat on racial politics. With the Great Depression gripping the nation, and with the lives of most Americans disrupted, the assisting of African-Americans in American society was seen as necessary by the new government.

1933–1981[edit]

During the 1930s, as the New Deal began to move Democrats as a whole to the left in economic policy, Southern Democrats were mostly supportive, although by the late 1930s there was a growing conservative faction. Both factions supported Roosevelt's foreign policies. By 1948 the protection of segregation led Democrats in the Deep South to reject Truman and run a third party ticket of Dixiecrats in the 1948 election. After 1964, Southern Democrats lost major battles during the Civil Rights Movement. Federal laws ended segregation and restrictions on black voters.

During the Civil Rights Movement, Democrats in the South initially still voted loyally with their party. After the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the old argument that all Whites had to stick together to prevent civil rights legislation lost its force because the legislation had now been passed. More and more Whites began to vote Republican, especially in the suburbs and growing cities. Newcomers from the North were mostly Republican; they were now joined by conservatives and wealthy Southern Whites, while liberal Whites and poor Whites, especially in rural areas, remained with the Democratic Party.[12]

The New Deal program of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) generally united the party factions for over three decades, since Southerners, like Northern urban populations, were hit particularly hard and generally benefited from the massive governmental relief program. FDR was adept at holding White Southerners in the coalition[13] while simultaneously beginning the erosion of Black voters away from their then-characteristic Republican preferences. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s catalyzed the end of this Democratic Party coalition of interests by magnetizing Black voters to the Democratic label and simultaneously ending White supremacist control of the Democratic Party apparatus.[14] A series of court decisions, rendering primary elections as public instead of private events administered by the parties, essentially freed the Southern region to change more toward the two-party behavior of most of the rest of the nation.

In the presidential elections of 1952 and 1956 Republican nominee Dwight D. Eisenhower, a popular World War II general, won several Southern states, thus breaking some White Southerners away from their Democratic Party pattern. The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a significant event in converting the Deep South to the Republican Party; in that year most Senatorial Republicans supported the Act (most of the opposition came from Southern Democrats). From the end of the Civil War to 1961 Democrats had solid control over the southern states on the national level, hence the term "Solid South" to describe the states' Democratic preference. After the passage of this Act, however, their willingness to support Republicans on a national level increased demonstrably. In 1964, Republican presidential nominee Goldwater, who had voted against the Civil Rights Act,[15] won many of the "Solid South" states over Democratic presidential nominee Lyndon B. Johnson, himself a Texan, and with many this Republican support continued and seeped down the ballot to congressional, state, and ultimately local levels. A further significant item of legislation was the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which targeted for preclearance by the U.S. Department of Justice any election-law change in areas where African-American voting participation was lower than the norm (most but not all of these areas were in the South); the effect of the Voting Rights Act on southern elections was profound, including the by-product that some White Southerners perceived it as meddling while Black voters universally appreciated it. Nixon aid Kevin Phillips told the New York Times in 1970 that "Negrophobe" Whites would quit the Democrats if Republicans enforced the Voting Rights Act and blacks registered as Democrats.[16] The trend toward acceptance of Republican identification among Southern White voters was bolstered in the next two elections by Richard Nixon.

Denouncing the forced busing policy that was used to enforce school desegregation,[17] Richard Nixon courted populist conservative Southern Whites with what is called the Southern Strategy, though his speechwriter Jeffrey Hart claimed that his campaign rhetoric was actually a "Border State Strategy" and accused the press of being "very lazy" when they called it a "Southern Strategy".[18] In the 1971 Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education ruling, the power of the federal government to enforce forced busing was strengthened when the Supreme Court ruled that the federal courts had the discretion to include busing as a desegregation tool to achieve racial balance. Some southern Democrats became Republicans at the national level, while remaining with their old party in state and local politics throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Several prominent conservative Democrats switched parties to become Republicans, including Strom Thurmond, John Connally and Mills E. Godwin Jr.[19] In the 1974 Milliken v. Bradley decision, however, the ability to use forced busing as a political tactic was greatly diminished when the U.S. Supreme Court placed an important limitation on Swann and ruled that students could only be bused across district lines if evidence of de jure segregation across multiple school districts existed.

In 1976, former Georgia governor Jimmy Carter won every Southern state except Oklahoma and Virginia in his successful presidential campaign as a Democrat. In 1980 Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan won every southern state except for Georgia, although Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee were all decided by less than 3%.[b]

1981–2008[edit]

In 1980, Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan announced that he supported "states' rights."[20] Lee Atwater, who served as Reagan's chief strategist in the Southern states, claimed that by 1968, a vast majority of southern Whites had learned to accept that racial slurs like "nigger" were offensive and that mentioning "states rights" and reasons for its justification, along with fiscal conservatism and opposition to social programs understood by many White southerners to disproportionally benefit Black Americans, had now become the best way to appeal to southern White voters.[21] Following Reagan's success at the national level, the Republican Party moved sharply to the New Right, with the shrinkage of the "Eastern Establishment" Rockefeller Republican element that had emphasized their support for civil rights.[22]

Economic and cultural conservatism (especially regarding abortion and LGBT rights) became more important in the South, with its large religious right element, such as Southern Baptists in the Bible Belt.[23] The South gradually became fertile ground for the Republican Party. Following the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the large Black vote in the South held steady but overwhelmingly favored the Democratic Party. Even as the Democratic party came to increasingly depend on the support of African-American voters in the South, well-established White Democratic incumbents still held sway in most Southern states for decades. Starting in 1964, although the Southern states split their support between parties in most presidential elections, conservative Democrats controlled nearly every Southern state legislature until the mid-1990s. On the eve of the Republican Revolution in 1994, Democrats still held a 2:1 advantage over the Republicans in southern congressional seats. Only in 2011 did the Republicans capture a majority of Southern state legislatures, and have continued to hold power over Southern politics for the most part since.

Many of the Representatives, Senators, and voters who were referred to as Reagan Democrats in the 1980s were conservative Southern Democrats. But there were or are notable remnants of the Solid South in the 21st century.

  • One example was Arkansas, whose state legislature continued to be majority Democrat (having, however, given its electoral votes to the Republicans in the past three presidential elections, except in 1992 and 1996 when "favorite son" Bill Clinton was the candidate and won each time) until 2012, when Arkansas voters selected a 21–14 Republican majority in the Arkansas Senate.
  • Another example was North Carolina. Although the state has voted for Republicans in every presidential election since 1980 except for 2008, the State legislature was in Democratic control until 2010. The North Carolina congressional delegation was heavily Democratic until January 2013 when the Republicans could, after the 2010 United States census, adopt a redistricting plan of their choosing. The incumbent governor is Democrat Roy Cooper, while both of North Carolina's U.S. Senators are Republicans.
  • Virginia continues to be an example, with both major parties competitive in the State in the 21st century. Dr. Ralph Northam, a Democrat and the governor of Virginia (2018–22), admitted that he voted for George W. Bush in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections.[24] Despite this admission, Northam, a former state Senator who has served as Lieutenant Governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018, easily defeated the more progressive and cosmopolitan candidate, former Representative Tom Perriello, by 55.9 percent to 44.1 percent to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2017.[25] Both of Virginia's U.S. Senators are Democrats, while the incumbent governor Glenn Youngkin is a Republican.

In 1992, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton was elected president. Unlike Carter, however, Clinton was only able to win the southern states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia. While running for president, Clinton promised to "end welfare as we have come to know it" while in office.[26] In 1996, Clinton would fulfill his campaign promise and the longtime Republican goal of major welfare reform came into fruition. After two welfare reform bills sponsored by the Republican-controlled Congress were successfully vetoed by the President,[27] a compromise was eventually reached and the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act was signed into law on August 22, 1996.[26]

During the Clinton administration, the southern strategy shifted towards the so-called "culture war," which saw major political battles between the Religious Right and the secular Left. Chapman notes a split vote among many conservative Southern Democrats in the 1970s and 1980s who supported local and statewide conservative Democrats while simultaneously voting for Republican presidential candidates.[28] This tendency of many Southern Whites to vote for the Republican presidential candidate but Democrats from other offices lasted until the 2010 midterm elections. In the November 2008 elections, Democrats won 3 out of 4 U.S. House seats from Mississippi, 3 out of 4 in Arkansas, 5 out of 9 in Tennessee, and achieved near parity in the Georgia and Alabama delegations.

Republicans first dominated presidential elections in the South, then won a majority of Southern gubernatorial and congressional elections after the 1994 Republican Revolution, and finally came to control a majority of Southern state legislatures by the 2010s. As of the 2020s, Southern Democrats who consistently vote for the Democratic ticket are mostly urban liberals or African Americans, while most White Southerners of both genders tend to vote for the Republican ticket, although there are sizable numbers of swing voters who sometimes split their tickets or cross party lines.[29][30]

2009–present[edit]

In 2009, Southern Democrats controlled both branches of the Alabama General Assembly, the Arkansas General Assembly, the Delaware General Assembly, the Louisiana State Legislature, the Maryland General Assembly, the Mississippi Legislature, the North Carolina General Assembly, and the West Virginia Legislature, along with the Council of the District of Columbia, the Kentucky House of Representatives, and the Virginia Senate.[31] Democrats lost control of the North Carolina and Alabama legislatures in 2010, the Louisiana and Mississippi legislatures in 2011 and the Arkansas legislature in 2012. Additionally, in 2014, Democrats lost four U.S. Senate seats in the South (in West Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Louisiana) that they had previously held. By 2017, Southern Democrats only controlled both branches of the Delaware General Assembly and the Maryland General Assembly, along with the Council of the District of Columbia; they had lost control of both houses of the state legislatures in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, and West Virginia.[32]

Nearly all White Democratic representatives in the South lost reelection in the 2010 midterm elections. That year, Democrats won only one U.S. House seat each in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Arkansas, and two out of nine House seats in Tennessee, and they lost their one Arkansas seat in 2012. Following the November 2010 elections, John Barrow of Georgia was left as the only White Democratic U.S. House member in the Deep South, and he lost reelection in 2014. There would no more White Democrats from the Deep South until Joe Cunningham was elected from a South Carolina U.S. House district in 2018, and he lost re-election in 2020.

However, even since January 2013, Democrats have not been completely shut out of power in the South. Democrat John Bel Edwards was elected governor of Louisiana in 2015 and won re-election in 2019, running as an anti-abortion, pro-gun conservative Democrat. In a 2017 special election, moderate Democrat Doug Jones was elected a U.S. Senator from Alabama, though he lost re-election in 2020. Democrat Roy Cooper was elected governor of North Carolina in 2016 and won re-election in 2020. Southern Democrats saw some additional successes in 2019, as Andy Beshear was elected governor of Kentucky and won re-election in 2023. As of February 2024, Democrats control the governorships of Kentucky, North Carolina, Maryland, and Delaware out of the 16 states classified as being part of the Southern United States by the United States Census Bureau.

Since 2017, most U.S. House or state legislative seats held by Democrats in the South are majority-minority or urban districts. Due to growing urbanization and changing demographics in many Southern states, more liberal Democrats have found success in the South. In the 2018 elections, Democrats nearly succeeded in taking governor's seats in Georgia and Florida and gained 12 national House seats in the South;[33] the trend continued in the 2019 elections, where Democrats took both houses of the Virginia General Assembly, and in 2020 where Joe Biden narrowly won Georgia with Republicans winning down ballot, along with Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff narrowly winning both U.S. Senate seats in that state just two months later. However, Democrats would lose the governor races in Florida and Georgia in 2022 by wider margins than in 2018, though Senator Warnock won re-election in Georgia.

Election results[edit]

Won by Biden/Harris
2020 United States presidential election results
States /
Commonwealth /
Federal district
United States presidential election Electoral
college
Democratic
# % Change
Alabama United States presidential election in Alabama 9 849,624 36.57% Steady0
Arkansas United States presidential election in Arkansas 6 423,932 34.78% Steady0
Delaware United States presidential election in Delaware 3 296,268 58.74% Steady0
District of Columbia United States presidential election in the District of Columbia 3 317,323 92.15% Steady0
Florida United States presidential election in Florida 29 5,297,045 47.86% Steady0
Georgia United States presidential election in Georgia 16 2,473,633 49.47% Increase1
Kentucky United States presidential election in Kentucky 8 772,474 36.15% Steady0
Louisiana United States presidential election in Louisiana 8 856,034 39.85% Steady0
Maryland United States presidential election in Maryland 10 1,985,023 65.36% Steady0
Mississippi United States presidential election in Mississippi 6 539,398 41.06% Steady0
North Carolina United States presidential election in North Carolina 15 2,684,292 48.59% Steady0
Oklahoma United States presidential election in Oklahoma 7 503,890 32.29% Steady0
South Carolina United States presidential election in South Carolina 9 1,091,541 43.43% Steady0
Tennessee United States presidential election in Tennessee 11 1,143,711 37.45% Steady0
Texas United States presidential election in Texas 38 5,259,126 46.48% Steady0
Virginia United States presidential election in Virginia 13 2,413,568 54.11% Steady0
West Virginia United States presidential election in West Virginia 5 235,984 29.69% Steady0
2020 United States federal elections results
States /
Commonwealth /
Federal district
United States Congress Total
seats
Democratic
Seats Change
Alabama United States House of Representatives in Alabama 7 1 Steady0
United States Senate in Alabama 1 0 Decrease1
Arkansas United States House of Representatives in Arkansas 4 0 Steady0
United States Senate in Arkansas 1 0 Steady0
Delaware United States House of Representatives in Delaware 1 1 Steady0
United States Senate in Delaware 1 1 Steady0
District of Columbia United States House Delegate for the District of Columbia 1 1 Steady0
Florida United States House of Representatives in Florida 27 11 Decrease2
Georgia United States House of Representatives in Georgia 14 6 Increase1
United States Senate in Georgia 2 2 Increase2
Kentucky United States House of Representatives in Kentucky 6 1 Steady0
United States Senate in Kentucky 1 0 Steady0
Louisiana United States House of Representatives in Louisiana 6 1 Steady0
United States Senate in Louisiana 1 0 Steady0
Maryland United States House of Representatives in Maryland 8 7 Steady0
Mississippi United States House of Representatives in Mississippi 4 1 Steady0
United States Senate in Mississippi 1 0 Steady0
North Carolina United States House of Representatives in North Carolina 13 5 Increase2
United States Senate in North Carolina 1 0 Steady0
Oklahoma United States House of Representatives in Oklahoma 5 0 Decrease1
United States Senate in Oklahoma 1 0 Steady0
South Carolina United States House of Representatives in South Carolina 7 1 Decrease1
United States Senate in South Carolina 1 0 Steady0
Tennessee United States House of Representatives in Tennessee 9 2 Steady0
United States Senate in Tennessee 1 0 Steady0
Texas United States House of Representatives in Texas 36 13 Steady0
United States Senate in Texas 1 0 Steady0
Virginia United States House of Representatives in Virginia 11 7 Steady0
United States Senate in Virginia 1 1 Steady0
West Virginia United States House of Representatives in West Virginia 3 0 Steady0
United States Senate in West Virginia 1 0 Steady0
2022 United States gubernatorial elections results
States /
Commonwealth /
Federal district
Governors Seat Democratic
Change
Alabama Governor of Alabama 0 Steady0
Arkansas Governor of Arkansas 0 Steady0
Florida Governor of Florida 0 Steady0
Georgia Governor of Georgia 0 Steady0
Maryland Governor of Maryland 1 Increase1
Oklahoma Governor of Oklahoma 0 Steady0
South Carolina Governor of South Carolina 0 Steady0
Tennessee Governor of Tennessee 0 Steady0
Texas Governor of Texas 0 Steady0
2018,[a] 2019,[b] 2020 and 2021[c] United States state legislative election results
States /
Commonwealth /
Federal district
Legislatures Total
seats
Democratic
Seats Change
Alabama Alabama House of Representatives 105 28 Decrease4
Alabama Senate 37 8 Steady0
Arkansas Arkansas House of Representatives 100 23 Decrease1
Arkansas Senate 18 7 Decrease2
Delaware Delaware House of Representatives 41 26 Steady
Delaware Senate 10 8 Increase2
District of Columbia Council of the District of Columbia 13 11 Steady0
Florida Florida House of Representatives 120 42 Decrease4
Florida Senate 20 9 Decrease1
Georgia Georgia House of Representatives 180 77 Increase2
Georgia Senate 56 22 Increase1
Kentucky Kentucky House of Representatives 100 25 Decrease14
Kentucky Senate 19 5 Decrease2
Louisiana Louisiana House of Representatives 105 35 Decrease4
Louisiana Senate 39 12 Decrease2
Maryland Maryland House of Delegates 141 99 Increase7
Maryland Senate 47 32 Decrease1
Mississippi Mississippi House of Representatives 122 46 Increase2
Mississippi State Senate 52 16 Decrease3
North Carolina North Carolina House of Representatives 120 51 Decrease4
North Carolina Senate 50 22 Increase1
Oklahoma Oklahoma House of Representatives 101 19 Decrease5
Oklahoma Senate 24 2 Steady0
South Carolina South Carolina House of Representatives 123 42 Decrease1
South Carolina Senate 46 16 Decrease3
Tennessee Tennessee House of Representatives 99 26 Steady
Tennessee Senate 16 2 Increase1
Texas Texas House of Representatives 150 67 Steady0
Texas Senate 16 8 Increase1
Virginia Virginia House of Delegates 100 48 Decrease5
Virginia Senate 40 21 Increase2
West Virginia West Virginia House of Delegates 100 24 Decrease17
West Virginia Senate 34 11 Decrease3
2018 United States mayoral election results
Cities Mayors Seat Democratic
Change
Austin, Texas Mayor of Austin 1 Steady0
Chesapeake, Virginia Mayor of Chesapeake 0 Steady0
Corpus Christi, Texas Mayor of Corpus Christi 0 Steady0
District of Columbia Mayor of the District of Columbia 1 Steady0
Lexington, Kentucky Mayor of Lexington 0 Decrease1
Louisville, Kentucky Mayor of Louisville 1 Steady0
Lubbock, Texas Mayor of Lubbock 0 Steady0
Nashville, Tennessee Mayor of Nashville 1 Steady0
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Mayor of Oklahoma City 0 Steady0
Virginia Beach, Virginia Mayor of Virginia Beach 0 Steady0

Noted Southern Democrats[edit]

Individuals are organized in sections by chronological (century they died or are still alive) order and then alphabetical order (last name then first name) within sections. Current or former U.S. Presidents or Vice presidents have their own section that begins first, but not former Confederate States Presidents or Vice presidents. Also, incumbent federal or state officeholders begin second.

Southern Democrat U.S. Presidents and Vice Presidents[edit]

  • Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States, U.S. Senator from Tennessee
  • Alben Barkley, Representative, U.S. Senator from Kentucky and U.S. Vice President[34]
  • John C. Breckinridge, 14th Vice President of the United States, 5th Confederate States Secretary of War, U.S. Senator from Kentucky
  • John C. Calhoun, 7th Vice President of the United States, U.S. Senator from South Carolina
  • John Tyler, 10th President of the United States, 10th Vice President of the United States, U.S. Senator from Virginia
  • James K. Polk, 11th President of the United States, 9th Governor of Tennessee
  • Jimmy Carter, Governor of Georgia and President of the United States (1977–1981)[35]
  • Bill Clinton, Governor of Arkansas and President of the United States (1993–2001)[36][37]
  • Al Gore, Representative and U.S. Senator from Tennessee, Vice President of the United States (1993–2001) and 2000 Democratic nominee for President[38][39]
  • Lyndon B. Johnson, U.S. Representative and senator from Texas, Vice President of the United States (1961–1963), and President of the United States (1963–1969)[40]
  • Andrew Johnson, 17th President of the United States, 16th Vice President of the United States, U.S. Senator from Tennessee

Incumbent Southern Democrat Elected Officeholders[edit]

19th Century Southern Democrats[edit]

  • Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States, U.S. Senator from Tennessee
  • Andrew Johnson, 17th President of the United States, 16th Vice President of the United States, U.S. Senator from Tennessee
  • Alexander H. Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate States, 50th Governor of Georgia
  • James K. Polk, 11th President of the United States, 9th Governor of Tennessee
  • Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States,[51] U.S. Senator from Mississippi
  • John C. Breckinridge, 14th Vice President of the United States, 5th Confederate States Secretary of War, U.S. Senator from Kentucky
  • John C. Calhoun, 7th Vice President of the United States, U.S. Senator from South Carolina
  • John Tyler, 10th President of the United States, 10th Vice President of the United States, U.S. Senator from Virginia
  • Judah P. Benjamin, 3rd Confederate States Secretary of State, 2nd Confederate States Secretary of War, 1st Confederate States Attorney General, U.S. Senator from Louisiana

20th Century Southern Democrats[edit]

21st Century Southern Democrats (Deceased)[edit]

21st Century Southern Democrats (Living)[edit]

Southern Democratic presidential tickets[edit]

At various times, registered Democrats from the South broke with the national party to nominate their own presidential and vice presidential candidates, generally in opposition to civil rights measures supported by the national nominees. There was at least one Southern Democratic effort in every presidential election from 1944 until 1968, besides 1952. On some occasions, such as in 1948 with Strom Thurmond, these candidates have been listed on the ballot in some states as the nominee of the Democratic Party. George Wallace of Alabama was in presidential politics as a conservative Democrat except 1968, when he left the party and ran as an independent. Running as the nominees of the American Independent Party, the Wallace ticket won 5 states. Its best result was in Alabama, where it received 65.9% of the vote. Wallace was the official Democratic nominee in Alabama and Hubert Humphrey was listed as the "National Democratic" candidate.[134]

Year Presidential nominee Home state Previous positions Vice presidential nominee Home state Previous positions Votes Notes
1860
John C. Breckinridge
 Kentucky Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Kentucky's 8th congressional district
(1851–1855)
Vice President of the United States
(1857–1861)

Joseph Lane
 Oregon Governor of Oregon
(1849–1850; 1853)
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Oregon Territory's at-large congressional district
(1851–1859)
United States Senator from Oregon
(1859–1861)
848,019 (18.1%)
72 EV
[135]
1944 Unpledged electors 143,238 (0.3%)
0 EV
[136]
1948
Strom Thurmond
 South Carolina Member of the South Carolina Senate
(1933–1938)
Governor of South Carolina
(1947–1951)

Fielding L. Wright
 Mississippi Lieutenant Governor of Mississippi
(1944–1946)
Governor of Mississippi
(1946–1952)
1,175,930 (2.4%)
39 EV
[137]
1956 Unpledged electors 196,145 (0.3%)
0 EV
[138]

T. Coleman Andrews
 Virginia Commissioner of Internal Revenue
(1953–1955)

Thomas H. Werdel
 California Member of the California State Assembly from the 39th district
(1943–1947)
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California's 10th congressional district
(1949–1953)
107,929 (0.2%)
0 EV
[139]
Walter Burgwyn Jones  Alabama Judge
Member of the Alabama House of Representatives
(1919–1921)

Herman Talmadge
 Georgia Governor of Georgia
(1947; 1948–1955)
0 (0.0%)
1 EV
[140]
1960 Unpledged electors 610,409 (0.4%)
15 EV
[141]

Orval Faubus
 Arkansas Governor of Arkansas
(1955–1967)

John G. Crommelin
 Alabama United States Navy Rear Admiral
Candidate for United States Senator from Alabama
(1950, 1954, 1956)
44,984 (0.1%)
0 EV
[142]
1964 Unpledged electors 210,732 (0.3%)
0 EV
[143]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Alabama and Maryland held midterms in every 4 years
  2. ^ Louisiana, Mississippi and Virginia only
  3. ^ Virginia House of Delegates only held off-year every 2 years

b South of the Mason–Dixon line Carter won just 34 electoral votes – his own Georgia, plus Delaware, Maryland, and District of Columbia.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Texas Politics – Yellow Dogs and Blue Dogs".
  2. ^ "Southern Democratic Party – Ohio History Central".
  3. ^ Kaiser, Charles (January 23, 2023). "'We may have lost the south': what LBJ really said about Democrats in 1964". The Guardian. Retrieved February 20, 2023.
  4. ^ "PolitiFact – Group of Southern Democrats, not all Democrats, held up 1964 Civil Rights Act".
  5. ^ "Democrat/GOP Vote Tally on 1964 Civil Rights Act". Wall Street Journal. December 31, 2002.
  6. ^ Carmines, Edward; Stimson, James (1990). Issue Evolution: Race and the Transformation of American Politics. Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691023311. Archived from the original on May 16, 2018. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  7. ^ Valentino, Nicholas A.; Sears, David O. (2005). "Old Times There Are Not Forgotten: Race and Partisan Realignment in the Contemporary South". American Journal of Political Science. 49 (3): 672–88. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5907.2005.00136.x. ISSN 0092-5853.
  8. ^ Ilyana, Kuziemko; Ebonya, Washington (2018). "Why Did the Democrats Lose the South? Bringing New Data to an Old Debate". American Economic Review. 108 (10): 2830–2867. doi:10.1257/aer.20161413. ISSN 0002-8282.
  9. ^ "The long goodbye". The Economist. Retrieved February 20, 2023.
  10. ^ "The Return of the Southern Democrat". U.S. News & World Report. October 5, 2018.
  11. ^ The South in Modern America A Region at Odds By Dewey W. Grantham, 2001, P.66
  12. ^ Byron E. Shafer and Richard Johnston, The End of Southern Exceptionalism: Class, Race, and Partisan Change in the Postwar South (2009) pp. 173–74
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  135. ^ The ticket won 11 states; its best result was in Texas where it received 75.5%.
  136. ^ Electors not pledged to any candidate were on the ballot in South Carolina and Texas, where they received 7.5% and 11.8%, respectively.
  137. ^ Running as the nominees of the States' Rights Democratic Party, the ticket won 4 states, and received one additional vote from a Tennessee faithless elector pledged to Harry S. Truman. Its best result was in South Carolina, where it received 87.2% of the vote. In Alabama and Mississippi, Thurmond was listed as the Democratic nominee; Truman was the "National Democratic" candidate in Mississippi and was not on the ballot in Alabama.
  138. ^ Electors not pledged to any candidate were on the ballot in several states.
  139. ^ Running as the nominees of the States' Rights Party and Constitution Party, the ticket's best result was in Virginia, where it received 6.2% of the vote.
  140. ^ Jones and Talmadge received one electoral vote from an Alabama faithless elector pledged to Adlai Stevenson.
  141. ^ Electors not pledged to any candidate were on the ballot in several states. In Mississippi, the slate of unpledged electors won the state. In Alabama, eleven Democratic electors were chosen, six unpledged and five for nominee John F. Kennedy. The Mississippi and Alabama unpledged electors voted for Harry F. Byrd for President and Strom Thurmond for Vice President; in addition, one faithless elector from Oklahoma pledged to Richard Nixon voted for Byrd for President, but for Barry Goldwater for Vice President.
  142. ^ Running as the nominees of the National States' Rights Party, the ticket's best result was in Arkansas, where it received 6.8% of the vote.
  143. ^ Electors not pledged to any candidate were on the ballot in Alabama, where they replaced national nominee Lyndon B. Johnson and received 30.6% of the vote.

Further reading[edit]

  • Barone, Michael, and others. The Almanac of American Politics 1976: The Senators, the Representatives and the Governors: Their Records and Election Results, Their States and Districts (1975–2017); new edition every 2 years; detailed political profile of every governor and member of Congress, as well as state and district politics
  • Bateman, David, Ira Katznelson and John S. Lapinski. (2020). Southern Nation: Congress and white supremacy after reconstruction. Princeton University Press.
  • Black, Earl and Merle Black. Politics and Society in the South (1989)
  • Bullock III, Charles S. and Mark J. Rozell, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Southern Politics (2012)
  • Bullock, Charles S.; MacManus, Susan A.; Mayer, Jeremy D.; Rozell, Mark J. (2019). The South and the Transformation of U.S. Politics. Oxford University Press.
  • Glaser, James M. The Hand of the Past in Contemporary Southern Politics (2013)
  • Key, V. O. Southern Politics in State and Nation (1951), famous classic
  • Kuziemko, Ilyana, and Ebonya Washington. "Why did the Democrats lose the south? Bringing new data to an old debate" ( No. w21703. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2015.) online
  • Rae, Nicol C. Southern Democrats (Oxford University Press, 1994)
  • Richter, William L. Historical Dictionary of the Old South (2005)
  • Shafer, Byron E. The End of Southern Exceptionalism: Class, Race, and Partisan Change in the Postwar South (2006) excerpt and text search
  • Twyman, Robert W. and David C. Roller, eds. Encyclopedia of Southern History LSU Press (1979).
  • Woodard, J. David. The New Southern Politics (2006)