Are We Seeing the Political Wind Shift In the South?
In many ways, the Deep South isn’t the South anymore — no more than Texas is still Texas. Here in Texas, “real Texas” is slowly becoming a Disneyization of its former self. Canadians in RV’s spend their long winter here. Techies from all over have moved to Houston and Austin. Non-Texans have retired to what used to be “where Texans go to die” — the hilly, cooler river-and-creek country in the center of the state. Hollywood has a branch here. A shift back to Democratic power in Texas is in the making, or so the experts are saying.
Maybe Mississippi and Alabama are still “The South,” but Georgia and Louisiana have been invaded by the rest of America, as has the entire South been the destination of Central American immigrants and their descendants.
So what does that do to the redness of the reddest states?
… The Deep South base is not as predictable as it once was. National polling companies have found a volatile contest in Alabama and Mississippi, a near toss-up among the three leading candidates. And indeed the primaries represent a rather neat slicing of the Southern electorate at the current moment.
“The base is split all over the place on this,” said Mike Ball, a Republican state legislator in Alabama. ...NYT
The problem for the Republican party is not just about the fragmentation of the vote among two or three tepid candidates. It’s also about the Latino vote — solidly behind Obama — throughout the South, “deep” or not. Here’s an excerpt from an NPR report broadcast yesterday.
NPR: Back in 2004, George W. Bush won 44 percent of the Latino vote. One of his supporters was Deedee Garcia Blase. She founded a group for Latino Republicans called Somos Republicans. Deedee is an Air Force veteran. She’s a fifth-generation Mexican-American and a lifelong Republican. But last year…
DEEDEE GARCIA BLASE: I started to see the Republican Party marginalize Hispanics. Basically, they just wanted them to keep a lid on the immigration issue.
NPR: And so she did something drastic. She abandoned the GOP and Somos Republicans. And she now expects to vote for President Obama in the fall, even though this is what she believes in.
BLASE: Strong national defense, capitalism, free market thinking, less taxes and the pro-life issue.
NPR: This past week, Fox News published a poll showing Mitt Romney winning just 14 percent of the Latino vote in a race against President Obama. Now, today, more than half of U.S. population growth is being fueled by the Latino community. The reason this is so important to presidential politics, because of where that population growth is happening. It’s happening in states like Arizona, as we mentioned, but also Florida, Virginia and Colorado. These are states that have often voted Republican, the places, says demographer Ruy Teixeira, that could soon swing the other way.
RUY TEIXEIRA: President Obama polled 75 percent of the minority vote. He can lose white voters by huge margins and still win the election, including white working-class voters. Meaning you assume he’s got not exactly locked down but pretty steady for the African-American vote, but Hispanics can be a more volatile constituency. But if Obama can get the margin that he got in 2008 from these voters, he’s going to get 75 percent of the minority vote, he may get 80 percent of the minority vote again, which is what he got in 2008. And that doesn’t exactly make him bulletproof, but it certainly gets him a long way toward getting re-elected. …NPR