M. V. Hood and Seth C. McKeeFeb 8, 2023
Rural Republican Realignment in the Modern South
The Untold Story
University of South Carolina Press 2022
Beginning with the Dixiecrat Revolt of 1948 and extending through the 2020 election cycle, political scientists M.V. Hood III and Seth C. McKee trace the process by which rural white southerners transformed from fiercely loyal Democrats to stalwart Republicans. While these rural white southerners were the slowest to affiliate with the Grand Old Party, they are now its staunchest supporters. This transition and the reasons for it are vital to understanding the current electoral landscape of the American South, including states like Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia, all of which have the potential to exert enormous influence over national electoral outcomes.
In Rural Republican Realignment in the Modern South: The Untold Story (U South Carolina Press, 2022), Hood and McKee examine their changing political behavior, arguing that their Democratic-to-Republican transition is both more recent and more durable than most political observers realize. By analyzing data collected from their own region-wide polling along with a variety of other carefully mined sources, the authors explain why the initial appeal of 1950s Republicanism to upscale white southerners in metropolitan settings took well over a half-century to yield to, and morph into, its culturally conservative variant now championed by rural residents. Hood and McKee contend that it is impossible to understand current American electoral politics without understanding the longer trajectory of voting behavior in rural America and they offer not only a framework but also the data necessary for doing so.
Brandon T. Jett, professor of history at Florida SouthWestern State College, creator of the Lynching in LaBelle Digital History Project, and author of Race, Crime, and Policing in the Jim Crow South (LSU Press, 2021) and co-editor of Steeped in a Culture of Violence: Murder, Racial Injustice, and Other Violent Crimes in Texas, 1965–2020 (Texas A&M University Press, scheduled Spring 2023). Twitter: @DrBrandonJett1.