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The Dynamics of Southern Politics

The Dynamics of Southern Politics
Causes and Consequences

  • Seth C. McKee - Oklahoma State University, USA, Texas Tech University, USA

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.

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