Johnny Dupree's Win and ‘Redneck-Blackneck Politics of the Deep South' | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Johnny Dupree's Win and ‘Redneck-Blackneck Politics of the Deep South'

In a new piece on Salon.com, writer Steve Kornacki argues that Democrats are pretty washed up in the Deep South, Johnny Dupree's historic victory notwithstanding. He writes:

While DuPree certainly deserves credit, it's hard not to look at his victory as the product of a rather depressing evolution of voting patterns in the Deep South, where race has increasingly become synonymous with party identification. It is this same evolution that will almost certainly doom him to a lopsided defeat in Mississippi this fall -- just as it dooms most Democrats, black or white, who run for statewide office in Dixie these days. [...]

It has taken decades, but white loyalty to the Democratic Party has all but vanished in the South, and today -- particularly in the Deep South -- race has emerged as one of the easiest predictors of a voter's partisan leanings.

Mississippi may be the most dramatic illustration of this. For instance, in the 2008 election, John McCain carried the state by a 55 to 44 percent margin. But the racial divide that produced that result is staggering: an 88-11 percent spread for McCain among whites, and a 98-2 percent margin for Obama among blacks. Nor was the gap appreciably narrower in 2004, when John Kerry ran against George W. Bush. Increasingly, this same divide is coming to define statewide contests in Mississippi. When he unseated Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove (who had been celebrated for his supposed ability to keep rural white voters in his party's fold), Haley Barbour earned nearly 80 percent of the white vote, and he did even better in his 2007 reelection victory. It wasn't until 1991 that the state elected its first post-Reconstruction Republican governor (Kirk Fordice), but the only victory for Democrats since then was Mugrove's in 1999 (when he earned less than 50 percent of the popular vote and was elected by the state legislature).

And there's no reason to think that DuPree will put an end to the GOP's dominance this fall. There are many reasons why he's the heavy underdog against Bryant, but the simplest may be this: Five decades after desegregation, it is more possible than ever for a black candidate to win a Democratic nomination for a major office in the Deep South -- but just as impossible as ever for that candidate to actually win the election.

Previous Comments

ID
164728
Comment

He includes a decent description of the "southern strategy" (that Republican chairman apologized to the NAACP for using, but they keep on using it in the Deep South anyway). But he should have mentioned one of the real purposes of tort reform: to stop so much money from flowing to Democratic candidates. A discussion of what's going on with the Democratic Party in the South isn't really complete without it.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2011-08-25T14:10:16-06:00
ID
164733
Comment

So from what I gather, history will remain the same. It's the history of current and past administrations that keep Mississippi where it is today. If folks are content with that then they won't be upset when the state ends up totally broke. That doesn't mean that the state will have financial support from the federal government. "Whats the federal government got to do with anything." "This is the State of Mississippi." "We handle our own." Those are some of the phrases that echo throughout the state. Mostly with white voters anyway. State leaders are voted into office to act as the brains for the people. Good or bad it's incorporated into the state constitution. The state has been faced with many violations over the past few years and my guess is they will face many more because everyone is content with the business as usual. The current administration complains about not have money to run the state yet no one wants to do anything to change why that problem exists. New business has canceled plans to start up and some of the most wealthy are noticing a caution light blinking. Will they drag up and leave too? It's time to kick it up a notch and make some changes for the better. Or not.

Author
DeGuyz
Date
2011-08-25T14:56:56-06:00
ID
164736
Comment

This will be a very intersting race, and I hope Mr. Dupree can keep his head up, get enough money to compete, and venture into republican strongholds so as to make republicans put up or shut up. We need to have voter registration drives, rallies, et al, so as to mobilize and galvanize the peeople. If we put up a good race republicans will show their makeup once more and again.

Author
Walt
Date
2011-08-25T17:02:41-06:00
ID
164739
Comment

The formula for electing a Democrat as governor is all the black votes and 30% of the white votes. But that's too simple. It depends on the size of the black turnout. I frankly think it also depends on the political orientation of the white candidate. Now consider this year's election. We've never had a black Democratic nominee. And we also have a particularly conservative white Republican nominee. African Americans might be expected to turn out in large numbers for an African American candidate, reducing the percentage of white Democratic voters needed. And an archconservative Tea Party darling Republican nominee might be expected to result in more moderate whites voting for a Democrat. Watch this one. It's going to be much, much closer than anyone presently thinks.

Author
Belvedere
Date
2011-08-25T20:09:13-06:00
ID
164740
Comment

I think the only chance Dupree has is to call out “Mississippi Conservatism” for what it truly is, a way to keep the masses poor. Mississippi is constantly at the bottom of most social and economic indicators because of the so called conservative politics that dominate the leadership in this state. I used to say that conservative politics won’t work for a state that is the most poor, most undereducated, most sick, and most segregated. But now I am beginning to realize that Mississippi is the poorest, sickest, most undereducated, and most segregated precisely because of conservative political leadership. This message needs to be hammered home. A mass effort to literally change the electorate (voter registrations in the prisons, rural areas, and homeless shelters, convalescent homes and hospitals- places where the most disaffected by conservative politics reside) must take place. If Dupree tries to run as a “Conservative Mississippian who happens to be black and democratic” he will be soundly beaten. The masses of people don’t need “conservative” leaders with so called “conservative values” that seem to do nothing more than to entrench wider and wider class (and racial) divides in this state. MS politics has to change if the state wants to begin to see change for the better. Conservative politics serves only to concentrate wealth, power and privilege in the hands of an elite few. MS has too many poor and disfranchised people to have leadership this out of touch with the lived realities of so many of its citizens. The question is, will Dupree run to win, or will he be content to be “the first black to be nominated by a major party in MS since reconstruction”?

Author
Renaldo Bryant
Date
2011-08-26T07:54:06-06:00
ID
164746
Comment

"Mississippi is constantly at the bottom of most social and economic indicators because of the so called conservative politics that dominate the leadership in this state" So its Texas at or near the top because of their conservative politics or in spite of it?

Author
RobbieR
Date
2011-08-26T09:52:02-06:00
ID
164749
Comment

@RobbieR According to this report, entitled “Texas on the Brink” (http://texaslsg.org/texasonthebrink ), produced by the Texas Legislature, Texas is near the bottom of the country on most quality of life indices. Texas does well on “Business climate” surveys and the like, but that is not translating well on important quality of life issues, such as educating the populace, percentage of people covered with healthcare, and air quality. All of which seemed to be sacrificed for the sake of having a good “business climate” that has produced low wage jobs for the most part. Again, this is evidence of what I was saying before, that Conservative politics seem to sacrifice quality of life for the working class masses for the sake of providing luxury for the elite.

Author
Renaldo Bryant
Date
2011-08-26T10:48:12-06:00
ID
164752
Comment

I was wondering about the veracity of RobbieR's statement but no time to factcheck it. Thanks for jumping in there and setting the record straight (from the horse's mouth), Blackwatch.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2011-08-26T11:36:03-06:00
ID
164755
Comment

Apples and oranges, RobbieR. But if you really want an answer, it's in spite of it.

Author
Belvedere
Date
2011-08-26T11:51:27-06:00
ID
164774
Comment

Racial identity and party politics being as they are, Mayor Dupree has a huge hill to climb. Even with black folks voting as a bloc, he still needs substantial white support to overcome the GOP/Tea Party juggernaut. In this part of the country, "Republican" or "Tea Party" have become codewords for whites (usually implying "White Supremacy" in context) and the term "Democrat" is a codeword for blacks. Blacks still account for less than 40% of the state population, and have a dismal record when it comes to showing up at the polls. With white libs seemingly becoming a scarce commodity, its difficult not to be skeptical that the Mayor has a snowballs chance in hell of winning.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2011-08-29T10:06:48-06:00
ID
164776
Comment

"voting patterns in the Deep South, where race has increasingly become synonymous with party identification" It is sooooo refreshing to see other people write on this and start calling it for what it is! Because no one is going to understand it until a "commoner" in the good ol' boy masses stands up and calls it out.

Author
Duan C.
Date
2011-08-29T15:48:56-06:00
ID
164784
Comment

The commenters on this article seem to be upset that whites vote overwhelmingly for white candidates. Why is it okay that blacks voted 98% for Obama in the last election? Don't they vote by race also? We should both be voting without regard to race; but let's admit that it's happening on both sides.

Author
traceyw
Date
2011-08-30T13:43:39-06:00
ID
164785
Comment

Traceyw, you are correct that we should be colorblind in our voting choices. What you don't acknowledge is that blacks have historically voted for white candidates as much as they do black candidates. You think Sheriff McMillian would have lasted this long without black support? The vast majority of blacks vote Democrat, an. If Herman Cain for instance were to somehow become the GOP presidential candidate in 2012, he would have nearly ZERO support from the black community.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2011-08-30T14:47:32-06:00
ID
164786
Comment

Jeff beat me to it, but I'll add to what he said. traceyw, you've presented a false anology. Blacks have been willing to overwhelmingly vote for a white candidate (like, say, Clinton). Can you present an African American candidate that whites have voted overwhemingly for? The problem isn't, as you incorrectly state, that whites sometimes overwhelmingly vote for white candidates; it is that they (I'm one, too, but an exception) are not like African Americans in that they won't vote overwhelmingly for a black candidate. You have noticed that the Republican Party is overwhemingly white, right? And that the Democratic Party is very diverse. I'm not a party person -- don't like any of em -- but if I had to choose one, I sure as heck wouldn't choose one that only panders to white folks.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2011-08-30T14:58:40-06:00
ID
164787
Comment

"...but if I had to choose one, I sure as heck wouldn't choose one that only panders to white folks." What about choosing one that panders to your belief structure, then? Is the most important aspect of a political party the variety in its diversity? How completely asinine. A person's politics is as personal as their religion. If your belief in a matter is strong enough, race doesn't factor into the equation.

Author
Darryl
Date
2011-08-31T04:47:09-06:00
ID
164789
Comment

What about choosing one that panders to your belief structure, then? Is the most important aspect of a political party the variety in its diversity? How completely asinine. Oh, but is it? Let's tease this one out a bit, Darryl, with a few questions: First, why is it that one party's "belief structure" -- these days, Republicans; it used to be Dem/Dixiecrats back in the day -- overwhelmingly appeals to people of one race (whites)? And if you are following a party that overwhelmingly appeals to people of a certain race, should you not be concerned and consider why that is? And is that party actively trying to appeal to people of one race over another? (Former RNC head Ken Mehlman said it was when he apologized to the NAACP. Is the party using truthfulness when it tries to turn one race against another for votes? (Think about Reagan's "welfare mothers" and Willie Horton, not to mention Barbour's "piano bench" insult)? If Muhlman is correct, how is that justified? And how does it make the current Republican Party (not everyone in it, but the ones doing/designing this southern strategy crap) not a party that is factoring race into the equation? Put another way and very simply: Why does the Republican Party alienate so many black voters? And how is that a matter of personal taste? I will add that the Dixiecrats and the Citizens Council, etc., pushed beliefs that were a matter of "personal taste." That didn't make it not racist or disgusting. Understand me: I don't believe all Republicans think this way, as all Democrats back before they switched party stances on race issues. But at what point do the members of any party becoming willing to stand up and speak out against this kind of intentional race division?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2011-08-31T08:31:19-06:00
ID
164791
Comment

"Traceyw, you are correct that we should be colorblind in our voting choices. What you don't acknowledge is that blacks have historically voted for white candidates as much as they do black candidates. You think Sheriff McMillian would have lasted this long without black support? The vast majority of blacks vote Democrat, an. If Herman Cain for instance were to somehow become the GOP presidential candidate in 2012, he would have nearly ZERO support from the black community. Thank you Jeff Lucas for making that point!!!!!

Author
Duan C.
Date
2011-08-31T11:57:16-06:00
ID
164792
Comment

"The commenters on this article seem to be upset that whites vote overwhelmingly for white candidates. Why is it okay that blacks voted 98% for Obama in the last election? Don't they vote by race also?" I would like to pose this point to you tracyw as well. I don't mind white people voting for other white people, however I do have an issue with working poor and middle class whites continuously voting for candidates that are passing fiscal legislation that hurts EVERYONE and that's my gripe. With these dumby downed soundbites of communism, socialism, and marxism are out of control and people down here are buying it up in droves? For once in our generation, we FINALLY have a president that is willing to work with both sides of the aisle, but yet people want to play childish political games!? Case in example, Eric Cantor (R) Virginia, gets on tv and basically says FEMA is a waste and any money spent on the damaged path of Irene, needs to be cut from somewhere else? To add insult to injury, we have Mississippians in the bloggosphere saying that the money will only go towards Katrina survivors needing Cadillacs and video games? I mean are we serious, because I'm a firm believer that people only speak of which they believe in and if their joking they usually clarify such! We (Mississippians) have working poor white literally looking at working class blacks as the enemy in this political environment, thinking they've (blacks) only obtained what they have (wealth) through affirmative action, HUD, welfare such as food stamps and welfare checks? That is based on empty rhetoric spewed by the radical right, which is predominately white (not all white but they do run the show). But Jeff Lucas clarified it best, blacks have voted overwhelmingly Democrat, not black for quite some time! So if you were to have a black Republican like Herman Caine pitted against a Rick Perry as a Democrat, Rick Perry would win in a landslide! The only Black republican that ever stood a chance of kicking any democrats butt in a election, and gaining support from the Black democratic base, would have been General Colin Powell.

Author
Duan C.
Date
2011-08-31T12:16:20-06:00

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