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Deep South Turning Blue

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/28/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 620 times Debate No: 77054
Debate Rounds (3)
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This will serve less as a debate and more as a discussion of possible future scenarios for the region of the United States commonly referred to as the Deep South. For the purposes of this debate, the Deep South shall consist of the states of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The Structure shall follow as such; Round 1: Acceptance, Round 2: Main Arguments, Round 3: Responses to Opposition.


I accept. Looks like a fun topic. Looking forward to your initial argument.
Debate Round No. 1


Firstly, I want to thank con for accepting this debate.

Now, there are two demographic trends that I believe will provide the basis for the deep south shifting from Republican to Democratic control, the first trend is racial, the second trend is religious. In both cases, trends seem to indicate a shift away from traditionally Republican leaning constituencies, and a shift toward traditionally Democratic leaning constituencies.

Starting with racial demographic trends, current evidence suggests that racial and ethnic minorities are becoming a larger portion of the population of the deep south. South Carolina's white population, for instance, is expected to fall below 60 percent of the state's total population by 2022, with whites falling to less than half of the state's total population by 2052. Georgia is expected to fall below 50 percent white by the year 2026, Mississippi by 2058, and Louisiana by 2038. Whites in Alabama are currently expected to remain a majority past 2060. [1] Now, according to exit polls from 2012, racial and ethnic minorities voted democratic by large margins, with democrats garnering 93 percent of the African American vote, 71 percent of the Hispanic vote, and 73 percent of the Asian vote nationwide. [2] Now, assuming that current demographic trends continue, simply based on racial demographics, it would seem that party control among southern states will likely shift from Republican to Democratic over the coming decades.

As for religious trends, recent elections have shown white Christians to usually back the republican party, whereas non-white Christians have usually voted for the Democratic party. Of course what also needs to be considered is the irreligious vote, which has also been a significantly democratic leaning constituency[3]. The irreligious vote is important because I believe that will give the Democrats a larger share of the white vote as time goes on. This could prove especially useful in states such as Alabama and Mississippi, where whites are not expected to fall below 50 percent of the total population until well past 2050. As for the current religious makeup of the south, White Christians in Georgia are currently just 45 percent of the state's population, a percentage that increases to 48 percent assuming that Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and Orthodox Christians are taken into account, which I will do simply for the benefit of the doubt. States such as South Carolina and Mississippi are not especially far behind Georgia, with Mississippi having a white christian population just over 51 percent, and South Carolina having a white christian population just over 57 percent. [4]

Now, with all this in mind, I argue that current demographic trends show a shift away from Republican leaning constituencies in many southern states, and this could give Democrats the advantage needed to shift party control away from Republicans and toward democrats in the deep south.






I want to thank my opponent for suggesting this topic, as it's one I've a great fascination with.

The story of the Deep South is, in many ways, reflective of the political history of the entire nation. Even when the Deep South votes in ways contrarian to the rest of the country - which has been often - a parsing of the votes of these five states reveals the deepest political fissures in our nation's history. I'll begin with examining the history of how the Deep South has voted. I'll then draw some conclusions from what this history teaches, and then explain why I believe demographic changes will be insufficient to turn the Deep South blue again.

The Solid South since Reconstruction

After the Civil War, the repatriated rebel states voted Republican in presidential races as often as it voted Democratic. Under Reconstruction policies, black citizens were allowed to vote, and voted for the party of Lincoln in large numbers. The voters of Mississippi sent the first black Senators to DC, and Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina voted for General Grant for president in 1972 (Louisiana had not yet rejoined the Union). [1] [2] By the election of 1876, Republicans both in the South and nationally had been wearied by the terrorism committed by Confederate loyalists in the KKK. In the contested race between Democrat Samuel Tilden and Republican Rutherford Hayes, agreed to end Reconstruction policies in exchange for seating Hayes as president. [3]

From that point onward, the South was the Solid South, voting staunchly Democratic for the next 70 years, even supporting Democrat Al Smith (despite his corruption and Catholicism) over Herbert Hoover in his 1928 landslide. [2]

Until 1948. Prior to 1948, African Americans were roughly split between the two parties. In 1948, for the first time, more African Americans identified as Democrats than Republicans. [4] What changed? First of all, the election of 1948 followed Truman's order desegregating the military. [5] At the 1948 DNC, Hubert Humphrey introduced the first civil rights plank to a major party platform since Reconstruction, and called on the Convention to "get out of the shadow of states' rights and to walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights." [6] [7] In protest, southern Democrats led by Strom Thurmond abandoned the convention. Thurmond ran for president under the "States Rights Party" banner, and became a Republican in 1964. [8] He captured the electoral votes of 4 out of the 5 Deep South states. [2] For the first time since 1880, the South voted for someone other than the Democratic nominee.

The "Solid South" resumed its habits in 1952 and 1956, and were some of the only states to vote against Eisenhower. In 1960, a few electors in Mississippi and Alabama decided to vote for Harry Byrd, a conservative Southern Democrat, rather than liberal, northeastern Kennedy.

Things changed for good in 1964, after LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act. [9] The Deep South revolted, and for the first time ever, all five Deep South states voted for a Republican - Barry Goldwater, who by opposing the Civil Rights Act, won only the Deep South and his home state of Arizona. [10] [2]. In 1968, the Deep South would vote largely for segregationist George Wallace instead of civil-rights-supporting Hubert Humphrey. [2] Nixon's campaign strategist Kevin Phillips devised the "southern strategy" to openly appeal to "Wallace Democrats" who opposed civil rights. [11] In 1972, Nixon won the Deep South. Since then, the Deep South has voted almost uniformly Republican, except when a Southern Democratic candidate (e.g., Carter or Clinton) was on the ticket. [2] Even then, Carter and Clinton lost in the Deep South more than they won (9 wins, 11 losses). [2] The "Solid South" is now solid GOP.

Lessons from history

There are two conclusions I draw from this history of the South over the last 34 Presidential elections. First: racial politics matter resonate deeply in the Deep South. The Deep South abandoned the Democrats over a single issue - civil rights for African Americans. The two shockwaves came in 1948 - when the Democrats decided to support civil rights - and in 1964 - when they actually accomplished them. The Democratic Party was immediately, forcefully, and permanently rejected in the Deep South as a result. As racial tension continues to fill the news - as southern states seek to limit access to the polls by black voters [12] and Confederate sympathizers fight to wave a symbol of racist oppression - it seems as though the white vote in the Deep South remains as animated by white supremacy as its ever been.

Second, it takes a concerted strategic effort on the part of political parties to win over deeply entrenched regional interests. As much as the Deep South abhorred civil rights, it wasn't until Nixon actively pursued the Southern Strategy that the Deep South became habitually Republican. Party strategy can change in light of changing demographics, as well.

The future of the Deep South.

I'll address the religious trends first. I don't think very good predictions can be made about how the increasing number of nonreligious voters will behave over the next several decades. Nonreligious voters are split on fiscal policy, and neither party has made an express appeal to these voters yet. The religious right faction of the GOP has turned some of these voters off, certainly - but if a conscious effort is made to develop an appeal, who can say? More importantly for the Deep South, however, is that the rise of the nonreligious has almost entirely been white. [13] In the Deep South, I suspect racial identity will still be the dominant organizing force for the next several decades.

I agree, though, that racial demographics do have the ability to shift the level of support for the GOP in the Deep South (assuming that the parties don't change their strategies dramatically as the GOP did under Nixon). But I don't think that these changes will be as pronounced in the South as my opponent does. First of all, my opponent has reported the demographic of everyone in the state. It would be more accurate, however, to look at the estimated breakdown of eligible voters, which is whiter than the population as a whole. [14] But my opponent also fails to compare the Deep South to the nation as a whole.

Georgia is the only state in the Deep South whose voting population is projected to become 50% minority sooner than the nation as a whole, in 2036. The US as a whole will reach that point in 2052. Mississippi will also hit 50% minority in 2052, but will retain a larger percentage of the white vote for longer - 48% in 2060, as opposed to 45% in 2060 for the nation as a whole. Louisiana will hit 50% minority in 2056. Alabama and South Carolina will still be far above 50% white in 2060 - 58% and 55% respectively. If demographic trends hold, then the Deep South is more likely to remain a rump of GOP control while the rest of the country moves on long before turning blue.

Debate Round No. 2


I don't have much time to post a more extensive response to my opponent's argument. so I'll be rushing a bit here. I will admit that there are a number of factors that influence how people vote, with the deep south being no exception though it would seem just based on simple racial demographic trends that we could expect Georgia and Louisiana to turn blue by 2032. Assuming that turnout rates for all demographic groups remain the same, and assuming that the democratic share of the white vote in the south remains the same and assuming then Georgia should have a slight democratic lean in 2032, and Louisiana should be a tossup state around the same time.



My opponent has posted some arguments in the comments. Since I haven't had the full amount of time to prepare responses, I'll ignore those here and ask any judges to base their votes solely on the content presented in the three rounds of the debate itself.

My opponent's responsive argument does not add anything particularly new to the dialogue. My opponent and I agree that the racial demographics of the Deep South are changing in ways that, at least at this point, look as though they will benefit the Democrats in the long term. But my opponent ignores the following key facts:

1) Similar demographic changes are happening throughout the nation. The Deep South will, for some time, remain a heavily white electorate, even as the rest of the nation becomes more diverse much more quickly. That would tend to make the Deep South the final redoubt of the GOP. If the Deep South turns blue, it will certainly be the one of the last parts of the country to do so.

2) Parties change strategies and coalitions to address changing demographics. It's a huge and unjustified assumption to believe that racial minorities will retain their advantages among racial minorities, especially if doing so means political extinction for Republicans on the national level. In a first-past-the-post voting system like ours, the polity tends to stabilize on two major political parties, each of roughly equal strength, adapting to the other party's strengths and weaknesses. It's very difficult to see the South turning blue before the GOP changes strategies in order to keep it.

I want to thank my opponent for this debate, and look forward to future discussions.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Go4thegold 2 years ago
Now, I am going to speculate that Democrats in the south will gather 20 percent of the white vote in the south, 94 percent of the African American vote, and 70 percent of Hispanics and Asians. Assuming that in 2032, no demographic group is under or overrepresented at the polls, then I calculate that Democrats will gather the following percentages in each of the Deep Southern states;

South Carolina: 45.9%
Georgia: 51.5%
Alabama: 43.3%
Mississippi: Minor note, I had mistakenly entered data for the racial composition of Alabama's voting eligible population into the Mississippi category; Mississippi's actual voter demographics will be 56% white, 38% African American, 4% Hispanic, and 3% Asian. Now assuming that all racial groups are fairly represented, then I predict the democratic share of the vote in Mississippi will be 51.8%.
Louisiana: 50.2%

Now, what these results show is that given enough time, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana will all have slight democratic leanings in 2032, with Louisiana being the closest out of the three states listed simply based on racial factors. Now I want to stress that this is simply a speculation, and that there are numerous factors that could affect this scenario, such as regional differences in voting patterns, voter turnout, or ideological leanings of state populations. However, based on current evidence, it would seem that if enough time passes, the deep south as a whole will turn blue.
Posted by Go4thegold 2 years ago
I want to apologize to my opponent for not posting my argument sooner. There were a number of external factors that prevented me from going online. and by the time I was online, there was barely any time for me to post a coherent response to my opponent's round 1 argument, so I'm going to try and post a more coherent argument in the comments section.

Now, one thing that I agree with my opponent on is that there are a lot of unknown factors that go into predicting political futures, and predicting the future of the deep south is no exception. That being said, there are certain elements that can be predicted fairly accurately based on current observations, one of those elements being the racial composition of the Deep South.

By 2032, the racial composition of registered voters should be as follows:

South Carolina: White; 63%, African American; 28%, Hispanic; 6%, Asian; 4%
Georgia: White; 52%, African American; 34%, Hispanic; 9%, Asian; 6%
Alabama: White; 65%, African American; 27%, Hispanic; 4%, Asian; 3%
Mississippi: White;65%, African American;27%, Hispanic;4%, Asian;3%
Louisiana: White;56%, African American; 34%, Hispanic; 6%, Asian; 4%

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