During the 1990s, the Republican party surged to majority status in the South after two decades of struggling unevenly to become established in the formerly one-party Democratic section of the country. In this comprehensive, up-to-date study, seasoned observers tell the fascinating story of the GOP’s remarkable advance at the regional level and in each of the eleven states of the former Confederacy, effectively capturing the current partisan dynamics at work throughout Dixie.
In Southern Politics in the 1990s eleven teams of political scientists and journalists—all of them long-time observers of the political scene in their own states—offer individual chapters that closely examine partisan and electoral developments in each southern state. Alexander P. Lamis frames the state discussions with introductory and concluding chapters that highlight the evolution of the two-party South and the political transformation the region as a whole underwent during the decade of the 1990s.
Together, the authors show that the amazing Republican spurt was fueled by many factors, including the ongoing entrenchment of the partisan competition begun three decades earlier; the national Republican sweep of 1994 that affected all regions of the country equally; and the successful efforts of Republicans to paint the Democrats as hopelessly mired in a corrupt political system and themselves as untainted reformers who represent the future.
However, as the separate state chapters illustrate, the pace of change differed from state to state. For example, South Carolina was an early Dixie leader in the GOP’s growth in the 1990s, but Arkansas caught the wave only in the middle of the decade.
Offering in-depth political analysis on both the state and the regional level, Southern Politics in the 1990sreveals that the 1990s revolution in southern politics gave the country, for the first time since the 1850s, a truly national party system. The book will prove essential to anyone interested in southern politics at the dawn of the twenty-first century.
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