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Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

The press often portrays the South as a place where white voters hold rock-solid conservative values that often carry the day for the Republican Party. But a new analysis from the Pew Research Center shows that politics in the Deep South are more complicated than that.

Chris Kromm, of the Facing South blog at the Institute for Southern Studies, reports that Pew has identified at least nine political "types" in the United States, with none accounting for more than 14 percent of the public. The Pew study, titled "Beyond Red and Blue: The Political Typology," finds that two groups are disproportionately large in the South: "Hard Pressed Dems" and "Disaffecteds."

Writes Kromm:

Pew's findings are especially interesting for the South. It's often assumed that Southern states -- especially Southern white voters -- are inherently conservative, and the region is only dipping into blue state territory thanks to transplants and immigrants.

There's an element of truth to that, but Pew's surveys have consistently shown that the Southern electorate is much more conflicted and complicated than many realize.

For example, Pew's survey identifies two groups that are disproportionately large in the South: "Hard-Pressed Dems" and "Disaffecteds." While Southerners made up 37 percent of Pew's survey respondents, those two groups were over-represented in Southern states,

What are "Hard Pressed Dems"? Pew says they are largely blue-collar workers who are "struggling financially" and are "generally cynical about government." Writes Pew: "Nearly half (47%) expect that they will not earn enough to lead the kind of life they want. Socially conservative and very religious."

Sounds like a lost cause for progressives, right? Well, maybe not. In fact, "Hard Pressed Dems" are disproportionately female and African-American. Writes Kromm:

One of the most striking findings: Only 16 percent of this group agree with the statement that "most corporations make a fair and reasonable profit" -- a view that would seem to make them amenable to consumer and labor reform if those don't get trumped by the "socially conservative" issues on Election Day.

What about "Disaffecteds"? Pew says they are "very critical of both business and government." They are sympathetic to the poor and supportive of social welfare programs, but they are pessimistic about their own financial futures. Writes Pew: "A majority believe that the government is wasteful and inefficient and that regulation does more harm than good. But nearly all say too much power is concentrated in a few companies."

"Disaffecteds" are largely white and are unlikely to see Democrats, or any political party, as the answer to their problems.

On the surface, the South sounds like a jumbled mess. But Kromm says progressives should not be too quick to write off the region:

My guess is that this points to the conflicted views Southern whites hold about government. But, as with everything else, that issue isn't cut-and-dry, either: Notice that Southerners actually rank low on the "libertarian" category, the group with the most animosity to government involvement in public life.

The upshot: Despite what the Tea Party or libertarian think tanks might say, many Southerners still see a role for government in resolving the problems they and their communities face.


Originally posted to RogerShuler on Mon May 16, 2011 at 09:59 AM PDT.

Also republished by Kos Georgia.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The South has always been very receptive (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pelagicray

    to populist candidates and messages.

    In the past, that has led to the rise of figures like Huey and Earl Long in Louisiana, George Wallace in Alabama, Theodore Bilbo in Mississippi and Lester Maddox in Georgia.

    It's been a mixed bag but mostly bad.

    But Southerners respond to candidates who claim to champion the little guy against the big corporate interests, especially when those interests are from outside the South. And they will also reject candidates born to wealth and privilege.

    Howell Heflin beat Bill Cabaniss that way:

    Heflin’s consultants were studying sophisticated methods to stop Cabaniss before he could get out of the gate but Heflin guffawed at them and said I’ll tell you how we’ll define him. Off the top of his head, Heflin said, we’ll just tell folks all over Alabama that Cabaniss is one of those Gucci shoe wearing, Rolex watch wearing, Grey Poupon mustard dipping, Kennebunkport, Maine vacationing, Mercedes driving Mountain Brook Republicans.
  •  I lived in NC from 1995-2001... (8+ / 0-)

    ....and felt that there were many southerners that were not right-wing religously zealous bigots.

    Those non-conservative "native" southerners, combined with a rising hispanic population, a large black population, and a rising population of people from the north (I mean, my political beliefs did NOT magically change to consvervative once I crossed the Mason-Dixon line) made the results of VA and NC in 2008 unsurprising.

    "...if my thought-dreams could be seen, they'd probably put my head in a guillotine..."

    by lams712 on Mon May 16, 2011 at 10:24:35 AM PDT

    •  Something this transplant to Texas (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PhilK, sebastianguy99, AnnieR, lams712

      has been trying to tell those of who live elsewhere in the country for some time.

      My shorter version: "Pitch in, shut up, or get out of the way and we'll fix it ourseves.  But please quit the Texas-bashing!"

      Probably applies region- and nationwide.

      Peace.

      Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

      by tom 47 on Mon May 16, 2011 at 10:40:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  asdf (0+ / 0-)
        "Pitch in, shut up, or get out of the way and we'll fix it ourseves.  But please quit the Texas-bashing!"

        Sounds like Texas all right, Rick Perry's Texas. It is OK to criticize the rest of the world, but not the sacred state of Tejas. OK, I'll STFU, and make sure that I never again contribute to any Texas candidate for any position.

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

        by enhydra lutris on Mon May 16, 2011 at 01:01:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You completely mis-construed: (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          enhydra lutris, lams712

          The paint-all-the state-as-if-we-are-Rick Perry is what gets tiring.  Help is welcome, and constructive criticism is deserved, as it should be for all.

          I fully recognize what the electorate in the state has done, repeatedly: we live it.  So have the electorates in Florida, Wisconsin, and elsewhere, on various occasions.  I don't waste my time wholesale condemning the entire populations of those states, recognizing that there are people there working against such mistakes, as there are here in Texas.

          Please re-consider your previous reaction to my perhaps graceless and blunt outburst.  No offense intended, then none taken.

          I say again, peace.

          Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

          by tom 47 on Mon May 16, 2011 at 02:49:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I have lived in rural Georgia (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lams712, irishwitch

      all of my life.  I am often asked where my liberal beliefs come from.  I can't really answer that.  I seem to have been born this way.

      I could buy a parrot and train it to say, `tax cuts,' but at the end of the day, it's still a parrot, not a conservative.

      by MadRuth on Mon May 16, 2011 at 12:24:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Tell 'em your religion made you liberal (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        isabelle hayes, MadRuth, lams712

        Read the first chapter of the Book of James:

        Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
        Another from James, in the second chapter:
        What good is it, my brothers and sisters,* if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
        18 But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith.
        You don't need a press release, just one-on-one answering their questions with words they may already have read.
  •  The "South" is more complex than many credit. (5+ / 0-)

    Racism and religious right fervor do in my experience exist there with more strength than many other regions but is by no means universal.

    But Kromm says progressives should not be too quick to write off the region

    Never should a region or state or locality be just "written off" by progressives or Democrats. If nothing else a "military" strategy calls for not doing so. In the darkest days of Nazi occupation on the Continent the Allies helped resistance movements. Not because the resistance was going to "liberate" any village, city, country or region but because it tied down the enemy's assets.

    Dean's fifty state strategy had that value. Even if no win is possible making the opposition contest every election in every state helps in areas where wins are possible with the additional value of making issues visible in otherwise "dark" areas.

    The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

    by pelagicray on Mon May 16, 2011 at 10:47:37 AM PDT

  •  the South loved the New Deal (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matthias, brae70, isabelle hayes

    Billions of dollars pouring in to provide electricity, sewer systems, running water, paved roads, streetlights, draining swamps, and building schools, hospitals, libraries, public pools, etc.  Not to mention hordes of young creative types eager to document Southern folk culture.

    The South is still pretty backward compared to the rest of the country, so there could be a lot of infrastructure that could still be built there.

  •  No. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    punditician, irishwitch

    It is bad enough that people are dying of AIDS, but no one should die of ignorance. ~Elizabeth Taylor

    by GlowNZ on Mon May 16, 2011 at 11:12:48 AM PDT

  •  If southern states ever consistently vote... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OnlyWords

    responsibly, then I'll pay attention to this.

    Otherwise it's nothing more that LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE whining.

    Oh - and let me once again express my profuse gratitude to the wonderful electorate in Florida. We here in WA state greatly appreciate your contribution to our rail system, via your elected officials turning down their cut.

    I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

    by punditician on Mon May 16, 2011 at 11:16:42 AM PDT

  •  The Republican do not own the South (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quaoar, isabelle hayes

    I believe that the Democratic Party just conceded the South for too long. As a result, the party establishment is ineffective.

    The Left must come to terms with the South if we are ever to become the dominant political force. That means there will be years of transition from conservadems to more progressive candidates able to win at every level.

    The Republicans are very good at developing candidates. They seem to percolate up from local school boards and county governments into increasingly higher profile offices. The Democratic Party seems to lack a developmental pipeline.

    I know many here will not like this, but we also have to learn to talk with church folks. Whether we like it or not, much of the reliable political muscle in the South runs through the churches on both sides of the aisle. The Left must be able to reach these people without contempt.

    Finally, we must realize the differences in each state. Georgia is not  the same as Alabama. Alabama is not the same as West Virginia. West Virginia is not the same as Florida. Florida is not the same as Louisiana. Texas is not the same as Kentucky, and so on.

    "Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so." ...Bertrand Russell

    by sebastianguy99 on Mon May 16, 2011 at 11:24:34 AM PDT

    •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      irishwitch
      I know many here will not like this, but we also have to learn to talk with church folks. Whether we like it or not, much of the reliable political muscle in the South runs through the churches on both sides of the aisle. The Left must be able to reach these people without contempt.

      1. When they seriously adopt and work for separation of church and state instead of theocracy.

      2. When they stop calling everybody who is living in the 19th century or later "sinners".

      It is a two way street, you know.

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

      by enhydra lutris on Mon May 16, 2011 at 12:58:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Nope. Not at all. (0+ / 0-)

      The South (I've  lived in GA for the past 8 years and in No FL from 84-91) is predominantly religiously cosnervative on almsot every issue--and that matters mroe than voting for soemone who'd champion workers.  Unless we become enthusiastic theocrats, Dems don't win down here.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Mon May 16, 2011 at 08:45:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Or is Rest of Country MORE Conservative than (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    isabelle hayes

    progressives think? See Wisconsin, Michigan, Maine, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois - 2010.

    The probability of the Republican candidate winning an election is directly proportional to the percentage of the electorate that is White...

    I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Republican Party

    by OnlyWords on Mon May 16, 2011 at 11:45:35 AM PDT

  •  It's so very complicated, who people choose to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quaoar

    put into office.  I live in GA and have a couple very dear to me, Republican moderates.  He's a news junkie like me and pays attention.  She doesn't pay attention, never has.  He voted for Obama, her for McCain.  She thought Sarah Palin was a hard working mother of 5, a governor, and respected her as a hard working mom.  That's all she knew about Palin.  Her husband paid attention, and Palin scared the hell out of him.  Paying attention plays a big role, and so many don't.  My sister, who grew up in a liberal family, is a hard core Fox right winger.  She's not even aware that she votes against her own best interests most of the time.  You won't find that info on Fox.  You can't get through to her with facts because they can be manipulated, don't you know.  It's so very complicated, and so very steered by emotion.  Especially if you don't pay attention.

    The GOP will destroy anything they can't own.

    by AnnieR on Mon May 16, 2011 at 12:16:49 PM PDT

    •  What church you attend pays a HUGE role. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AnnieR

      My SiL used to be sane, then she got religion (AGAIN) and attends a rightwing Baptist church and she had a McCain/Palin sticker on her car.  SIL is an unholy cross between Sue Sylvester and Sarah Palin--Sarah's "I know everythign because God told me" self-rightwousness and SYlvester's sheer meanness. We don't go to large gatherings of family because of her,

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Mon May 16, 2011 at 08:48:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's sad when these people are allowed to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        irishwitch

        destroy family dynamics.  (I've likened it to a disease in some of my posts here, that infects us all.)  My brother and I have danced around the fact that if not for my Mom, our sister would not have a major role in our lives.  She, too, is a know it all, based purely on what Fox tells her.  Religion only plays a role in her life if it's convenient to use to club us over the heads.  The hypocrisy is stunning.  Her selfishness is a turn off for my 2 kids.  My oldest refuses to be around her, including last Christmas dinner at her house.  It's just sad when you realize you just have to let them go because the toxicity they bring into your life isn't worth it.  Very sad.

        The GOP will destroy anything they can't own.

        by AnnieR on Tue May 17, 2011 at 05:30:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Therein lies the rub. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    irishwitch
    a view that would seem to make them amenable to consumer and labor reform if those don't get trumped by the "socially conservative" issues on Election Day.

    Must we move back to the dark ages in all other respects in order to get support for consumer and labor issues, and, if so, should we?

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Mon May 16, 2011 at 01:03:30 PM PDT

  •  "Hard=Pressed Dems" don't really exist. (0+ / 0-)

    SOcial conservatives down here are all fundy-evangelicals and they do NOT vote Dem. I live in GA, have been here since 2003, and also spent 6 years in No. FL in the late 80s.  Disaffecteds I know lots of.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Mon May 16, 2011 at 08:42:59 PM PDT

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