The Rise of Southern Republicans

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Harvard University Press, Jun 30, 2009 - Political Science - 464 pages
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The transformation of Southern politics over the past fifty years has been one of the most significant developments in American political life. The emergence of formidable Republican strength in the previously solid Democratic South has generated a novel and highly competitive national battle for control of Congress. Tracing the slow and difficult rise of Republicans in the South over five decades, Earl and Merle Black tell the remarkable story of political upheaval.

The Rise of Southern Republicans provides a compelling account of growing competitiveness in Southern party politics and elections. Through extraordinary research and analysis, the authors track Southern voters' shifting economic, cultural, and religious loyalties, black/white conflicts and interests during and after federal civil rights intervention, and the struggles and adaptations of congressional candidates and officials.

A newly competitive South, the authors argue, means a newly competitive and revitalized America. The story of how the South became a two-party region is ultimately the story of two-party politics in America at the end of the twentieth century. Earl and Merle Black have written a bible for anyone who wants to understand regional and national congressional politics over the past half-century. Because the South is now at the epicenter of Republican and Democratic strategies to control Congress, The Rise of Southern Republicans is essential to understanding the dynamics of current American politics.



Table of Contents:

1. The Southern Transformation
2. Confronting the Democratic Juggernaut
3. The Promising Peripheral South
4. The Impenetrable Deep South
5. The Democratic Smother
6. The Democratic Domination
7. Reagan's Realignment of White Southerners
8. A New Party System in the South
9. The Peripheral South Breakthrough
10. The Deep South Challenge
11. The Republican Surge
12. Competitive South, Competitive America

Notes
Index



Reviews of this book:
These two leading scholars of Southern politics present a rigorous investigation of how voting in the peripheral South (Florida, Arkansas, Texas, North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee) and the Deep South (Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina) was realigned since Ronald Reagan was first elected president in 1980.
--Karl Helicher, Library Journal

With publication of their latest book, The Rise of Southern Republicans the Blacks, both 60, have produced a trilogy that traces an almost geologic-style evolution in the South's political landscape. They've analyzed the whys and what-fors of a region, that in the past 50 years, has gone from impenetrably Democratic to competitively Republican. Their overarching conclusion: the two-party warfare that defines the South defines the nation...The Blacks' work--a mix of political wonkery and historical perspective, cut with the deliciously illuminating anecdote--is read by academics in various disciplines and political junkies of all stripes. The books are valued for their coolly dissecting insights...Because their writing swells beyond the data-crunching lab work of most political scientists--though new readers beware: The books are littered with scary-looking charts and graphs--it travels beyond academia. Party strategists are steeped in the work. "The Blacks wrote the book on how academic political science can illuminate practical politics," says Republican pollster Whit Ayers.
--Drew Jubera, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The South's political identity has been transformed in the last half-century from a region of Democratic hegemony to a region of Republican majority. Earl and Merle Black...sedulously examine this remarkable change...This is a work of serious scholarship that lacks any hint of a partisan purpose. Committed readers will increase their understanding of both Southern and national politics. The Blacks' effort may well be the definitive statement on Southern politics over the 20th century.
--Publishers Weekly

Not since 1872, Earl Black and Merle Black point out in their third book on Southern politics, had the Republicans constructed majorities from both the North and the South in both houses, and it was the national character of their victory that made the 1994 election such a landmark...In The Rise of Southern Republicans, the Black brothers chronicle the party's history from the 1930s to the present, election by election. They illuminate the economic, racial and political dynamics that gradually moved the South toward the Republican Party, while also warning that the Republicans do not by any means own the region in the way the Democrats once did.
--Kevin Sack, New York Times Book Review

In The Rise of Southern Republicans brothers Earl and Merle Black explain the partisan realignment that has brought the South into the national political mainstream. The Blacks...focus most of their attention on the congressional arena, where voting patterns reflect long-term partisan loyalty more closely than at the presidential level...[T]he story the authors of The Rise of Southern Republicans tell is a fascinating one, with implications for American politics that are both profound and uncertain.
--David Lowe, Weekly Standard

The rise of southern Republicans is one of the most consequential stories in modern American politics. For political reporters of a certain generation...the Democratic dominance of Southern congressional politics is barely understood. The Black brothers make it all very clear.
--Major Garrett, Washington Monthly

This superb analysis of Southern politics by Earl Black...and his brother Merle Black...not only tracks the recent rise of Republicans in the South but explains why party realignment along ideological lines was so long in coming to that region...The Rise of Southern Republicans is already being rightly hailed as a political science classic. Its strength is the thorough and systematic manner in which it examines the changing ways a wide variety of factors have affected Southern voting patterns over the past four decades. The data and the rigor of the analysis are truly impressive.
--James D. Fairbanks, Houston Chronicle

This extraordinary book by the country's two leading scholarly experts on the politics of the American South could accurately have been titled "Everything you wanted to know about Southern politics, as well as everything you could ever imagine asking about it"...Their knowledge of the intricacies of particular congressional districts across the region is amazing, and their analysis of the larger partisan trends in the region makes this the most important book on Southern politics.
--Stephen J. Farnsworth, Richmond Times-Dispatch

The Black brothers have done it again. The Rise of Southern Republicans is without question the most important book ever written on the role of the South in Congress and the partisan consequences for our national legislature. Far and away the most comprehensive updating of the V.O. Key classic Southern Politics. This is a major work by extremely talented scholars.
--Charles S. Bullock, University of Georgia

The dramatic rise of the Republican Party in the South is the single most important factor in the transformation of American politics since the 1960s. Earl and Merle Black have described this process in a book that is witty, always filled with insight, and readable to the last page. The Rise of Southern Republicans is indispensable reading for anyone interested in American politics - past, present or future.
--Dan T. Carter, author of The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism, and the Transformation of American Politics

This marvelous book captures - with authority and readability - the big story of post-New Deal party politics in the United States. It is a surefire classic of political science and politics.
--Richard F. Fenno, Jr., author of Congress at the Grassroots: Representational Change in the South, 1970-1998
 

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The rise of Southern Republicans

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The conservative Democratic Party that reigned throughout the South from the 1930s through the 1970s has been replaced by a highly competitive two-party system, conclude the Blacks (The Vital South ... Read full review

Contents

1 The Southern Transformation
1
2 Confronting the Democratic Juggernaut
40
3 The Promising Peripheral South
72
4 The Impenetrable Deep South
114
5 The Democratic Smother
138
6 The Democratic Domination
174
7 Reagans Realignment of White Southerners
205
8 A New Party System in the South
241
9 The Peripheral South Breakthrough
268
10 The Deep South Challenge
294
11 The Republican Surge
328
12 Competitive South Competitive America
369
Notes
407
Index
433
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About the author (2009)

Earl Black is Herbert S. Autrey Professor of Political Science at Rice University.

Merle Black is Asa G. Candler Professor of Politics and Government at Emory University.

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