Southern Voting Behavior Since The 1960s

1601 words - 6 pages

Voters in many areas of the U.S. are apt to vote differently as a whole from election to election. The nation has also had a decreased turnout rate for the presidential and local elections. The South has typically not followed these patterns that the rest of has seemed to be following. The Southern whites of the U.S. have typically followed and voted for the more conservative candidate and party.

Where as the Southern blacks have typically (when they have been able to vote) voted for the more liberal party or candidate. The South was at one time a Democratic stronghold and has in the past 30 years become a typically conservative voting electorate. This tendency of voting by race for the liberal or conservative candidate has been a continuing occurrence. Southern turn out for elections has been significantly lower than the rest of the nation as well over the same time period. This bias of the past 30 years as well as voter turn out has only recently began to change in the South.In the beginning of and prior to the 1960's the South was a Democratic stronghold and it was rare for there to be any competition from Republicans in these non competitive states (Mulcahy p.56).

A poll taken in the 1960's showed that " the southern states were the obvious stronghold of Democratic identification. The extreme case was Louisiana, where 66% identified with the Democratic party"(Black p.44). This all began to change as the Democratic party became more liberal in its national policy views. The Democrats became too liberal in their policies concerning civil rights for the white Southerners to continue voting for them. (Mulcahy p.40). This reason along with others is what drove the Southern whites to change there voting habits of the last 100 years.

The white Southerners began to vote for presidents of the Republican party and for Independents such as the Dixiecrats, because they were more conservative on a national scale. The Largest change of the Southern voters occurred in 1960 when "the southern white Protestant presidential vote went Republican"(Wayne p62). This would of allowed for the democrats to lose the south if the black electorate had not voted Democrat. The black Southern voters at the time of the 1960's were just again able to participate with their rights to vote.

This was because shortly after the Civil War and reconstruction the Southern whites reduced and eventually removed the short lived black political power. They added laws that made it mandatory to take tests for voter eligibility, as well as discouraging black voting at all. This discrimination greatly reduced if not completely halted black voting in the south until the 1950's and 1960's. It was not until 1965 that the Voting Rights Act was passed that prohibited literacy tests for federal elections did blacks obtain their constitutional right to vote (Wayne p.70). Many blacks did in fact support the Republican party for quite a long time because they were known...

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