The Story: New Republican

This was again, you have to remember, right after the Goldwater sweep in 1964. When people thought you could probably get elected as a Republican, that the old tantamount theory [the Solid South] had been thrown out the window.

Bert Nettles


"The old tantamount theory"
- Bert Nettles

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Nixon's campaign 1968

Governor George Wallace may have altered his message to appeal a changing electorate, but throughout his political career he remained in the Democratic Party. During Wallace’s political tenure (1963-1987), several other southern leaders, such as South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond, left the Democrats to join the Republican Party. The civil rights movement and other infringements on states’ rights had caused many white southern Democrats to become increasingly disenchanted with the National Democratic Party. Therefore, when Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign revealed that Republicans could now win significant support in the South, many southern Democrats began to consider the Republican Party as a viable alternative. Additionally, many new voters would choose the Republican Party as the nation entered a period of increased conservatism.

The increasing success of southern Republicans has tended to trickle down – first winning electoral votes, then congressional seats, and finally winning elections in the lower chambers throughout the South. Since 1964, all eleven former Confederate states have voted increasingly for Republican presidential candidates and only three of ten presidencies have gone to Democrats. By the 1990s many southerners who had first voted Republican in presidential races were beginning to vote Republican in state elections as well (Bass xi). As a result, since 1993 the South has elected more Republican Senators than has the rest of the nation (Bullock 5).  In 1984, southern Republicans held more than 20 percent of the lower seats in their state chambers for the first time (Bullock 11).