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(Originally posted at Facing South.)

Challenging commonly-held stereotypes about regional politics, a new poll finds there are only four solidly Republican states left in the nation -- and not a single one of them is in the South.

An analysis released this week by the Gallup Poll finds that only Idaho, Wyoming, Utah and Alaska can now be classified as "solid Republican" states, with Alabama categorized as "leans Republican." South Carolina, Mississippi and Texas -- states traditionally thought of as firmly in the GOP camp -- are now classed as "competitive." Here's the map:

Meanwhile, three other Southern states that were deemed competitive in a similar poll conducted last year have since gone over to the Democratic side, with Florida and Georgia leaning Democratic and Virginia now considered solidly so.

"While the Republican Party is still able to compete in elections if they enjoy greater turnout from their supporters or greater support for its candidates from independent voters, the deck is clearly stacked in the Democratic Party's favor for now," the analysis concluded.

The most Republican states in the nation are Utah and Wyoming, a status that hasn't changed since last year. Massachusetts remains the most Democratic state, along with the District of Columbia. In all, 30 states including D.C. are solidly blue, compared to only four that are solidly red.

The poll comes as the national Republican Party finds itself struggling for traction -- and as some Republicans are blaming Southerners for their problems. As retiring U.S. Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) recently told the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch:

"We got too many Jim DeMints (R-S.C.) and Tom Coburns (R-Ok.). It's the southerners. They get on TV and go 'errrr, errrrr.' People hear them and say, 'These people, they're southerners. The party's being taken over by southerners. What they hell they got to do with Ohio?'"

Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker, a native Southerner and a conservative, wrote about Voinovich's remark this week -- and concluded he "was not entirely wrong:"

Not all Southern Republicans are wing nuts. Nor does the GOP have a monopoly on ignorance or racism. And, the South, for all its sins, is also lush with beauty, grace and mystery. Nevertheless, it is true that the GOP is fast becoming regionalized below the Mason-Dixon line and increasingly associated with some of the South's worst ideas.

Gallup's poll raises questions about the oft-heard claim that the GOP is a regional party based in the South, with the findings suggesting that if it's a regional party it's based in the West. However, Parker does have a point that troubling ideas continue to find a stronghold in the South's collective consciousness.

As evidence, she points to the recent poll commissioned by Daily Kos that asked participants if they believe President Barack Obama was born in the United States. It was conducted in response to the so-called "birther" controversy that holds Obama was actually born in his father's homeland of Kenya -- despite his Hawaiian birth certificate, a birth announcement in a Hawaiian newspaper that was placed there by the state Department of Vital Health Statistics, and the dismissal of two federal lawsuits that challenged his citizenship.

Answering that they did believe Obama was a natural-born U.S. citizen were 93% of people in the Northeast, 90% in the Midwest and 87% in the West. But only 47% of those in the South agreed, with 30% of Southerners and the same proportion of Republicans overall saying they weren't sure. Observed Parker:

Southern Republicans, it seems, have seceded from sanity.

But as she also noted, it's hardly fair for Republicans to blame Southerners for all of their party's woes. After all, the GOP since the time of Richard Nixon has employed a strategy of cultivating votes by appealing to white Southerners' hatreds and fears. That strategy was alive and well during the last national election, and it continues today among politicians from the South and elsewhere who are pandering to those who will not accept that the nation's first African-American president is really an American.

Unfortunately, though, the prejudices of some Southerners are sometimes used to justify prejudices against all Southerners. As TheHill.com columnist David Hill observed in a recent column titled "Regional bigotry in bloom," some commenters at Daily Kos used the birther poll findings to question whether jury trials should be allowed in Southern states -- with some arguing that they should not. This kind of anti-Southern prejudice overlooks the complex reality of an increasingly diverse region, where as Hill points out Democrats hold majorities in both legislative houses in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina.

Parker says she hopes the difficulties the GOP is suffering at the moment represent the "death throes" of this particular ugly style of politics. Gallup's latest findings seem to suggest that a growing number of Americans, including those throughout the South, would agree.

Originally posted to Sue Sturgis on Thu Aug 06, 2009 at 07:44 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Oklahoma never will lean Dem. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KentuckyKat, BlackQueen40

    Coburn, Inhof, Congressman Boren (DINO).  

    This poll shows little.

    They "prefer an America where parents will lie awake at night worried if they can afford health care their children need."

    by TomP on Thu Aug 06, 2009 at 07:47:08 AM PDT

    •  Actually, (15+ / 0-)

      We've just about always had more registered Democrats than Republicans. The thing is, they don't vote Democratic when it comes to national office -- or increasingly, local office.

      I thought the trend was starting to head in the direction of more Republicans registering as such, but then this poll came out and an already confusing situation is even more so.

      I've fucking given up trying to figure out my fucked-up state's politics.

      Someone who threatens violence against ideas he disagrees with concedes those ideas are stronger than his.

      by droogie6655321 on Thu Aug 06, 2009 at 07:49:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think that's exactly right and likely (7+ / 0-)

        explains why Kentuck was put in the solidly Democratic category. Seriously, I live in KY and there is no way that this state is solidly Democratic.

        When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him. - Jonathan Swift

        by blueyescryinintherain on Thu Aug 06, 2009 at 07:56:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Every time a map like this comes out (5+ / 0-)

          People go "Whaaaa?"

          All it really proves is that people's voting registration may or may not have any bearing on their actual votes.

          Someone who threatens violence against ideas he disagrees with concedes those ideas are stronger than his.

          by droogie6655321 on Thu Aug 06, 2009 at 07:58:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  KY (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus, TomP, BlackQueen40

          I too live in KY and there were only 2 counties that voted  BLUE in 2008 and they were Jefferson (Louisville) and Fayette (Lexington) which hold the 2 biggest cities.  KY is very close to West Virginia as we do have quite a bit more people registered Democrats but a large percent are very conservative and won't vote Dem in the big elections.  KY has been trending REDDER the last 12 years, the last time KY voted Democrat was 1996 when Clinton won by ONE PERCENT.  I see the Gallup map and it gets my hopes up, but states such as KY, TN, WV, AR, OK, etc that are either lean/solid BLUE on the Gallup MAP I don't believe will vote BLUE for the next 20-40 years.

          Even here in Louisville which is the most Progressive city in KY, most/all of the talk radio is VERY conservative (Limbaugh, Hannity, Hewitt, etc) and even the local politics shows (Francene for example) are tilted obviously to the right.

      •  and that's the flaw in the gallup poll (4+ / 0-)

        in their write up they explicitly say that party registration gives dems an advantage in these states - but clearly, that is NOT the case on the national level.

        In the west, most states are quite blue. the small population in the three states highlighted in this report (under 6 million for all three) is clearly an outlier of the region. But one reason it sparks such bright red is that there is no legacy of dixiecrats to muddle up the registration numbers.

      •  Oklahoma is a Yellow Dog... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TomP, BlackQueen40

        ..."Machine" state traditionally. 'Pugs have been hitting the right chords of late. The notorious corruption of the Democratic Party there pretty much killed things, so now even lifelong Democrats - still registered as such - vote Republican.

        Also discovered the other day that Oklahoma is tied for #50 (with Mississippi) in worst health care across all measures. And even lifelong Dem (who votes Republican) MiL buys the FoxBot lines about "socialized medicine" and wants the gub'ment to keep their hands off her Medicare and Social Security! Can't talk sense into people like that, they've been thoroughly deluded. Thus not a single OK country went Obama in the '08 elections, despite the fact that they (like folks here in NC) tend to prefer Democrats local and state.

    •  If "Oklahoma will never lean Dem"... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackQueen40

      ... then why do you think Gallup found that it did?

      I have to confess that I'm not an expert in Oklahoma politics, as Facing South doesn't count it as part of the South. Our definition includes AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX, VA, and WV.

      •  Botched polling... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TomP, BlackQueen40

        Oklahoma was the only state* that had every county go red...every county!  And it was the state with the highest percent vote for McCain!

        * - Alaska might have pulled the same feat, however they never released county level data, at least as far as I can see on USElectionAtlas.org.

        Just for comparison sakes, states which saw all counties go blue:
        Connecticut (60%+ vote for Obama)
        District of Columbia (60%+)
        Hawaii (60%+)
        Massachusetts (60%+)
        New Hampshire
        Rhode Island (60%+)
        Vermont (60%+)

  •  And, interestingly, Idaho Utah at bottom of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53

    per student spending.  Utah spends only $5,600 per student compared to New York's $16,000 per student.

    Idaho comes in at the bottom, too.

    I think the Dems can point to the abysmal social spending of the solidly red states.

    Utah has cut any/all social safety nets to the bone and deeply cut them recently in the face of this recession.

    How can Utah/Idaho students compete with New York students under Obama's new Education Award system?

    Can the Fed intervene on behalf of state residents when a state blatantly favors corporations at the expense of the citizens?

    And, in Utah, maybe half the state is owned by the Fed, so we can't populate those areas to increase our tax base.  The kids in Utah are paying the price so that Americans can enjoy Zions Park and the like, aren't they?

    Poverty does not mean powerless. Unite!

    by War on Error on Thu Aug 06, 2009 at 07:51:48 AM PDT

  •  Party I.D. and trends in national or statewide (5+ / 0-)

    voting have always been different, especially in the south.

    Arkansas has Dem Senators but votes Rep. for President. Oklahoma had (has) a Dem. majority in the State Legislature even though they never vote Dem. nationally.

    "...this nation is more than the sum of its parts ..." Barack Obama-18 March,2008

    by Inventor on Thu Aug 06, 2009 at 07:52:40 AM PDT

    •  Exactly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus

      And too much of perception is based on the politics of the last 15 years, which gives a mistaken perception that change is impossible.

      A lot of these places were FDR strongholds in the 1930s.  There is some of that mindset still floating around.

  •  There are a number of potential problems with (6+ / 0-)

    this Gallup poll.

    First, it was taken over a period of 6 months.  Gallup purports to analyze differences between 2009 results in states and 2008 results, but a 6 month sample period makes it nearly impossible to draw conclusions about trends.  

    Second, the sample size in many states was small.  As Gallup indicates, the margin of error was 7% in one jurisdiction and 6% in several others.

    So, be careful about drawing too many conclusions from that poll.

  •  Good, thoughtful, well reasoned diary. Thanks (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, Front Toward Enemy

    Sue.

    When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him. - Jonathan Swift

    by blueyescryinintherain on Thu Aug 06, 2009 at 07:57:58 AM PDT

  •  How is KY (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MariaWr

    solid Dem?  That makes no sense...

    Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man" Loving v. Virginia

    by KentuckyKat on Thu Aug 06, 2009 at 07:58:32 AM PDT

  •  No!no! Don't diary this on dKos!! (3+ / 0-)

    Heads will asplode!! Prejudices will suffer terribly!! Trolls will rise from their autoban graves!! People might actually have to think! Oh, the humanity!

    Only that day dawns to which we are awake... Henry David Thoreau

    by graycat13 on Thu Aug 06, 2009 at 07:59:46 AM PDT

  •  grey is the color of hope! (0+ / 0-)

    I love seeing that grey Mississippi.  It's not as pretty as a blue Mississippi, but, hey, it's a work in progress, gotta have patience. :)

    "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

    by Front Toward Enemy on Thu Aug 06, 2009 at 08:14:18 AM PDT

  •  Great post. (0+ / 0-)

    Very interesting data.  This seemingly contradicts recent assertions that the Republican Party is a Southern rump caucus.  If it were, then we'd see their strength concentrated in the South.  

    Also, how do we make sense of the polls suggesting that 70% of southern, white Republicans are birthers?  I guess there aren't nearly as many Republicans in the South as I'd thought.

    God, now wonder the tea- bagging ball-licking lunatics are freaking out.

    Blagojevich/Palin '12.

    by fou on Thu Aug 06, 2009 at 08:15:48 AM PDT

    •  The map accurately reflects (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, fou

      that UT, ID and WY (and to a lesser extent AK) are almost all white, with Republican identification very strong - the dark red.

      The gray/dark blue (for the most part) correctly identifies the fact that the R strength in those states is actually a much lower margin, relying upon a high turnout and near R unanimity among southern whites. Not nearly so "solid" as the ruby states on the map.

      What the map fails to indicate (and really can't on its own) are the states such as KY, AR and OK, which have lots of self-identified Dems, who vote Republican often on social issues.

  •  What about anti-NYC, anti-SF bias? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lorzie

    Yes, many people are unfairly critical of the South and Southerners. I live in the South - a particularly Republican section of the South (East Tennessee). By and large I love East Tennessee - it's one of the most beautiful places in America, it has one of the richest musical traditions anywhere, and its people are often startlingly friendly.  But Southern politics has thrived on the demonization of the "East Coast" and San Francisco and other large cities - and that's true for East TN too. What separates the South from the rest of the country is politics and religion. Southerners like to blast "Yankee liberals" and "godless Californians."

    Oh, and how many people died in the great Puerto Rican war for independence?

    David Hill doth protest too much.

    •  Regional Biases (0+ / 0-)

      Southerners like to blast "Yankee liberals" and "godless Californians."

      Just like my friends in Manhattan who make fun of the "dumb rednecks" in the South.  Regional biases and regional stereotyping works both ways.

    •  thousands died (0+ / 0-)

      Puerto Rico had thousands of puerto rican patriots who died in the independence battles. the Puerto Rican republic was squashed in 1868, other revolts include the nationalits revolts in the 1940's and 1950's until Puerto Rico became a self governing country, but this status has not given puerto ricans full sovereignty of their homeland due to the political association or neo'colonial relationship with US.
      This history is unknown in the US school system, ignored is the best word to describe it.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    •  You made very broad statements w.o. back up- (0+ / 0-)

      I'm in NC, and I've never heard a word of that, and in fact have met many transplanted NYC-ers. Instead, several of the conservatives I know around here are native Californians. If you want to make specific claims about where you live, fine, but the South cannot be characterized accurately in strokes that broad. It's just silly, and it will piss people off.

  •  could be (0+ / 0-)

    if they enjoy greater turnout from their supporters

    Sarah and the Birfermen

  •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

    I know the south has not always been Republican but I think they should be careful about believing this swing will necessarily keep Republicans from making a comeback (and yes I would like to see them become a small regional party as well).  I agree that Republicans have often used the fears and ignorance of many Southerners to gain votes, but perhaps those days are starting to slide away.  I am working on becoming a teacher and I have found I often look at things from that standpoint.  Yesterday I found it very interesting when I found an article about the Quality Counts reports, which ranks all schools by state in the nation.  Overall Virginia the state I live in was fourth, and Tennessee which is a huge Republican stronghold was way down the list ,and in some of the categories on the report had ranked as low as 45th. Perhaps education is winning over all the old rednecks.  Of course, the fact that we always lose jobs, during a recession could be driving many southerners to move in search of work and maybe they are moving west.   There are many possibilities.

  •  Alaska as solidly Republican is a real hoot . . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton

    as there is no state which receives more per capita government funds than any other.

    Those independent, self-reliant Alaskans love to suck up the Federal $$$$

    "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

    by bobdevo on Thu Aug 06, 2009 at 08:42:07 AM PDT

  •  I'm not going to hold my breath.... (0+ / 0-)

    ...but it sure would be nice to hear apologies from all those people who last week said we should just write off the South.

  •  Republicans and the Southern Strategy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sue Sturgis

    Playing on the fears and resentments of Southern white folks wasn't new, when Nixon rolled it out in 1968 as the "Southern Strategy".

    Southern Democrats had been doing this for generations. There's a reason former Southern Democrats found a welcoming home in post 1964 Civil Rights Act Republican Party: the Republicans adopted their tactics for political gain.

  •  We've got some work to do (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sue Sturgis

    but we are starting to see results from what we have been doing.

    Also, just because they're leaving the Republicans doesn't guarantee they'll work or vote Democratic.

    Our job now is to find ways to engage those who are not absolutely batshit crazy and move them into our big tent.

    Before you win, you have to fight. Come fight along with us at TexasKaos.

    by boadicea on Thu Aug 06, 2009 at 09:02:06 AM PDT

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