VOICES | Nixon’s ‘Southern Strategy’ worked


Former President Richard Nixon might well be turning over in his grave with satisfaction for the results of the election on November 4 because of the fact that the political strategy he initiated more than 40 years ago was successful. Yet, for his party it has proved to be dismal failure.

One has only to look at the map of the United States and plot the so-called red states against the blue states to graphically verify my contentions. One will be quick to notice that the Southern portion of the U.S. is colored in deep red, from Charleston, S.C., to Dallas, Texas.

An example of this Southern Republican domination is demonstrated in the fact that 90 percent of the White voters in Alabama and Mississippi supported John McCain, according to the Associated Press.

Anyone with memory as far back as WWII, or who happens to be cognizant of the political history of that era, will recall that this portion of the country was then described as “the solid South” — or, more accurately, “the solid Democratic South.” However, with the advent of the Civil Rights Movement and the Democratic Party subsequently decreeing a multicultural state party delegation (thanks to the courageous Fannie Lou Hamer), White southerners abandoned their Democratic Party loyalty.

It was then-President Nixon who came to the rescue with what was known as “the Southern Strategy,” a plan for appealing to White resentment over desegregation to capture Southern voters for the Republican Party.

The election map shows beyond any doubt that the efficacy of the strategy was real. It paid off big time in capturing Southern states for his party. Before this effort, not since the Civil War and Republican Abraham Lincoln freeing the slaves had the South voted Republican.

But in this year’s election, it was a colossal disaster in the rest of the country for the party. Even sparsely populated Midwestern and Western states like Iowa and New Mexico came on board. And, the election left the entire New England region without a single Republican House representative.

According to the exit polls, the South was the only region in the country where the share of voters identifying themselves as Republicans was about the same as Democrats. In all other sections of the country, Democrats far outnumbered Republicans.

The Nixon Southern Strategy was right for the Republican Party: It won the battle. But it lost the war.

It must be said, however, that the landslide Democratic victory in the November 4, 2008 election was due in no small degree to its choice for the head of the ticket and its presidential candidate — BARACK OBAMA!

Matthew Little welcomes reader responses to mlittle@spokesman-recorder.com.