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The Dynamics of Southern Politics

The Dynamics of Southern Politics
Causes and Consequences

August 2018 | 432 pages | CQ Press
“I cannot praise the author enough for rising to the challenge of providing students with an accessible trip through time to show the emergence of the one-party South and how the South evolved over time.” 
—Keith Lee, Georgia College

Taking a hard look at the changing demographics in the American South, The Dynamics of Southern Politics discusses how this region remains exceptional while also addressing how that exceptionalism is eroding. Author Seth McKee tells a historically rich story going back to the end of the Civil War, tracks electoral changes to the present, and explores some of the most significant components contributing to partisan change. Supported by a host of detailed tables and figures, this book pairs a strong historical foundation with an in-depth analysis of the contemporary region. 

Tables, Figures, and Boxes
About the Author
Chapter 1. The Long Arc of Southern Political History
Overview of the Book  
Explanations of Southern Political Change  
Chapter 2. Before a “Solid South”
1868 to 1900: The Relentless Work of Democratic “Redemption”  
Northern Republicanism in the South  
The End of Reconstruction  
An Unstable Interlude  
Populist Threat and Its Removal  
Summary of a Most Politically Volatile Period  
Concluding Thoughts  
Chapter 3. Democratic Past
Origins of the Solid South  
The Timing and Tools of Disfranchisement  
The (White) Primary System  
The 1930s: Democracy Heads North  
The 1948 Election: A Permanent Fissure in the Solid South  
Summary of Southern Democratic Dominance  
Concluding Thoughts  
Chapter 4. Competitive Transition
The Not-So Placid 1950s  
The Tumultuous and Triumphant 1960s  
The Deceptively Quiet 1970s  
Reagan and the 1980s Turning Point  
Summary Evidence of the Competitive Transition  
Concluding Thoughts  
Chapter 5. Republican Present
Unintended Consequences?  
Republican Control from Top to Bottom  
Federal Contests  
Statewide Contests  
State Legislative Elections  
The Peak of Republican Hegemony?  
Chapter 6. Generational Change and GOP Growth
The Importance of Party Identification  
Party Identification of Black Southerners  
Party Identification of White Southerners  
Life-Cycle, Period, and Generation Effects  
Tracking Generational Change and Party Identification  
Concluding Thoughts  
Chapter 7. Issues: Race, Economics, and Religion
Issues, Ideology, and Political Sophistication  
Sorting and Polarization Within the Southern Electorate  
The Big Three: Race, Economics, and Religion  
Chapter 8. Sectional and Locational Differences
Southern Urbanization  
Deep Versus Peripheral South: An Enduring Divide  
Location and a Changing South, 1950–2000  
Location in the New Millennium  
Voter Preferences by Subregion and Location  
Concluding Thoughts  
Chapter 9. The Changing Southern Electorate
A Note on the Data  
Racial and Ethnic Composition of the General Electorate  
White Voters  
Black Voters  
Latino Voters  
Race and Gender  
The Democratic and Republican Coalitions, Then and Now  
The Primary Electorate  
Welcome Back Carpetbaggers! Southern In-Migrants  
Concluding Thoughts  
Chapter 10. Republican Responses to Demographic Change
Demographic Change in the Southern Electorate  
Electoral Volatility in the New Millennium  
The 2010 Republican “Tsunami”  
Congressional Redistricting  
Jim Crow in Miniature? Restrictive Voting Laws  
The Importance of Shelby County v. Holder  
Chapter 11. The South in Comparative Perspective
Election Patterns in the South and Non-South  
Party Identification in the South and Non-South  
Voter Preferences in Recent Elections  
Enduring Southern Exceptionalism  
Chapter 12. The Future of Southern Politics
The Old Southern Politics  
A Longitudinal Look at Party Competition  
The Re-Segregation of Southern Politics  
Demographic Change and Democratic Promise  
Final Thoughts  

“A thorough and empirically-based (not exhausting!) discussion of the role of race in southern politics from the Civil War to the present.” 

Branwell DuBose Kapeluck
The Citadel

“I cannot praise the author enough for rising to the challenge of providing students with an accessible trip through time to show the emergence of the one-party South and how the South evolved over time.” 

Keith Lee
Georgia College

“A historically rich treatment of southern politics that successfully introduces students to the way social science is practiced today.” 

Chris Cooper
Western Carolina University

“Thoughtful, meticulously researched, accessible to an undergraduate population.” 

Vaughn May
Belmont University

“The subfield of southern politics is sometimes criticized for focusing far too much on anecdotal evidence without having much of an empirical flavor. McKee remedies this.”

Vaughn May
Belmont University
Key features


  • An in-depth examination of the region’s historical and demographic features provides students with important context.
  • Analysis of historical events, long-term trends in election results, the compositional makeup and behavior of the electorate, the location and variation of partisan strength, comparative examinations of politics within and outside of Dixie, and recent changes in the dynamics of party competition illuminate for students the extraordinary and exceedingly rich evolution of the political system below the Mason-Dixon Line.
  • A wealth of figures, tables, and data tell the story of political change in the American South in a compelling easy-to-understand manner.
  • A series of text boxes offers more focused information on particular features of each chapter to give students a deeper understanding of the material.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 2: Before a 'Solid South'

Chapter 5: Republican Present

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