The Southern strategy may soon go the way of separate but equal.
That's the thrust of a Washington Post story detailing how Southern political operatives are warily eyeing President Obama's fundraising clout and shifting demographics as a national election approaches. States like North Carolina, Georgia and even Texas that have been reliable bastions of Republican support are increasingly up for grabs.
In part, the shift is a reflection of the inroads Obama made in winning fiercely sought-after states like North Carolina, Virginia and Florida. Democratic efforts to build on those gains could be buoyed by aggressive fundraising, given Obama's stated aim of generating an unprecedented $1 billion in campaign contributions.
They turned out voters in record numbers last time, and we need to be ready, Robin Hayes, chairman of the North Carolina and a former Congressman ousted in 2008, told the Post. We expect them to be as good and probably better. We know they'll have more money. And if you think that's not the case, you're making a foolish mistake.
But there are larger forces at work, too. The 2010 Census revealed that African-Americans have been moving South in large numbers, reversing the historic great migration that saw large numbers of African-Americans move north in search of work at the beginning of the 20th century. This accompanied an influx of Hispanic voters. Taken together, these trends suggest that the social underpinnings of the Southern strategy, which seeks to win Republican votes through appeals to social issues tinged by race, may be shifting enough to render the strategy obsolete.
This is no longer only the party of Jesse Helms, said Paul Shumaker, a GOP strategist, referring to the five-time North Carolina senator who often employed racially motivated political advertisements and who vigorously opposed civil rights measures including the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. I tell my clients, and I tell others: 'You need to quit looking through the rearview mirror, and you need to start looking through the windshield.'
There are also indications that North Carolina's electorate is becoming more moderate as voters are more concerned with budget cuts to cherished public services than social issues, the Post reported.