As the Democratic presidential hopefuls take to the stage for Friday's MSNBC-hosted forum at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, moderator Rachel Maddow commented on the party's struggles in the South, noting she would question the candidates on the issue. It's gotten so bad for the Democrats in the South that they've stopped even attempting to field candidates who could test Republican candidates in notable races, Maddow said.
"Even after the Democrats went South for their [2012 Charlotte] convention, and there was all this lip service paid to how the new South was a Democratic South, there are still major races in Southern states where the Democratic Party basically isn’t even fielding candidates," Maddow told the Charlotte Observer. "And that is a failure of what’s supposed to be a [national] party that I haven’t heard any of these candidates address meaningfully."
The location of the forum is seemingly important to Maddow, and she said her questioning would challenge candidates on their party's failures in the region. "I’m going to press them on the fact that we’re in the South … and the fate of the Democratic Party in the South is a really interesting and, I think, daunting question for the Democratic Party," she told the Observer.
The forum Friday is different from a debate and will question the candidates -- former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley -- one-by-one onstage.
Democrats have indeed struggled in a number of recent elections in the South. With Republican Matt Bevin's recent surprise victory in Kentucky, the GOP now controls every governorship in the South except those in Virginia and West Virginia (if you consider the state Southern), reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Republicans also control every state legislature in the South, except in Kentucky.
While Democrats are hopeful the party can win Louisiana's governor's race later this month, there have been a number of recent failures. The party lost the Mississippi governor's race in a landslide, its candidate a long-haul trucker with no political experience. An expensive effort to win the Virginia Senate failed, and the party has yet to field a candidate to challenge Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson next year, the Journal-Constitution reported.
President Barack Obama carried three Southern states in 2008 -- North Carolina, Florida and Virginia -- along the way to winning his first presidential election. North Carolina shifted to the GOP as Obama earned re-election in 2012.