Barack Obama made history by winning three Southern states (all that's left in North Carolina are counting provisional ballots, which favor Democrats). John McCain still maintained the Republican dominance of the South, winning the remaining 10 states.

But of course, Electoral College counts and Red/Blue election maps obscure a deeper truth: That the South is neither Red nor Blue, but deeply Purple.

According to preliminary election returns, here are the 13-state South-wide totals for the two major presidential candidates:

John McCain - 21,047,740 - 53%
Barack Obama - 18,604,726 - 47%
Obama won at least 40% of the vote in every Southern state except Alabama and Arkansas, where in each case he won 39%.

Remember those numbers the next time you hear a pundit or blogger call the South a "Republican" region. Like the rest of the country, it is a region divided.

And notably, for 18.6 million Southerners, it was a time to elect the first African-American to the White House.

* The Institute includes the following state in its definition of the South: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.