Election 2008: Obama and a changing South

Facing South has reported on the changing political landscape of the South, arguing that with the social, economic, and demographic changes occurring across the region, there is a need for a new political strategy to address the South's emerging relevance. This relevance was shown in clear detail this month when the South helped to elect the the first African-American president of the United States.

In Blue Dixie: Awakening the South's Democratic Majority, Bob Moser, a political correspondent for The Nation, argued that the Democratic Party has been blinded by outmoded prejudices about the South, and he made a powerful case for a new Southern strategy for the Democrats. Indeed, in this week's The Nation Moser writes on the success of Barak Obama's campaign to do just that by out-organizing Southern Republicans for the first time in modern history. Moser explains:

From the start of [Obama's] campaign, when he brashly promised to compete and win in Southern states, Obama grasped something that only Howard Dean, among Democratic heavyweights, had recognized: not only was the South changing fast, demographically and culturally, but nobody had more reason to be sick to death of all those artificial divisions than Southerners themselves.

The Senator from Illinois showed up to campaign not just in exploding urban and suburban areas (where he won big) but also in towns like Bristol. He talked--seriously, soberly, in detail--about healthcare, the climate crisis, education and kitchen-table economics. He understood that while most Southerners remain cultural traditionalists, they are also increasingly progressive on economic and environmental issues. That insight best explains why Obama won three of the region's five largest states (Virginia, North Carolina and Florida), and earned the fifty-five electoral votes that lifted him from a narrow victory to a landslide.