Ronald Keith Gaddie

in The Oxford Handbook of Southern Politics

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195381948
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks



The story of southern realignment is a complicated one. Much as a southern matriarch reiterates the complex relationships of the family through its ailments, tragedies, and triumphs, telling the tale of southern politics requires recounting complex and ancient relationships that still echo in the contemporary South. Realignment is the narrative style through which southern politics scholars tell their tales. This article first reviews the concept of political realignment as it developed in the American political science literature; then it discusses criticisms of realignment. The article introduces and describes the concept of regional realignment with an eye toward its application to the South, then discusses the realignment of southern whites and blacks. Southern white realignment is an enduring process spanning eighty years and four distinct eras of southern politics, embodying multiple fits and starts for the Republican Party. Black realignment centers on one critical era, the elections of 1960 and 1964, which had significant groundwork preceding it in the 1940s and 1950s before the arrival of the critical moment when television and legislation met at a critical juncture and neither balked.

Keywords: southern realignment; southern politics; political realignment; southern whites; southern blacks; Republican Party

Article.  10932 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics

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