Election 2008: Did white Democrats vote for Obama in the South?

As we all know, in the South there are lots of white Democrats who vote for Republican presidents. Ever since the 1960s, the Civil Rights Act and Nixon's Southern Strategy, Republicans have succeeded in peeling off a growing share of presidential votes from white Democrats in the region.

The issue came into special focus this election, when Southern whites were faced with not only voting for a Democratic president, but the first major African-American candidate in history.

So did Southern white Democrats vote for Obama? It depends on which state you look at. But an Institute analysis of exit poll data finds that in seven Southern states, 75% or more white Democrats voted for Obama.

What's more, in all but three Deep South states, two-thirds or more white Democrats voted for the president-elect.

Here's a ranking of the percent that Obama got from white Democrats:
RANKINGS: Percentage of White Democrats Voting for Obama

1 - Virginia: 86% of white Democrats voted for Obama
2 - North Carolina: 83%
3 - Florida: 81%
4 - South Carolina: 80%
5 - Tennessee: 79%
6 (tie) - Georgia: 78%
6 (tie) - Texas: 78%
8 - West Virginia: 69%
9 - Arkansas: 68%
10 - Kentucky: 62%
11 - Alabama: 47%
12 - Louisiana: 38%
A figure for Mississippi was "not available."

A couple take-aways:

* As the stats for Florida, North Carolina and Virginia show, the percentage of white Democrats voting for a Democratic president is a fairly good barometer of the Democrats' overall chances in that state.

* These numbers would suggest that in some Southern red states like South Carolina, conservative whites are leaving the Democratic party, leaving a higher percentage of "true" Democrats. In the Deep South and Appalachia, more conservative whites are staying in the Democratic Party -- and voting for Republicans for president.

* Except for the Deep South, these numbers are pretty much in line with the performance of past Democratic presidential candidates -- suggesting that Obama's race didn't drive away as many Southern white Democratic voters as many predicted.