Chapter

A Southern Road Less Traveled: The 1966 Gubernatorial Election and (Winthrop) Rockefeller Republicanism in Arkansas

John A. Kirk

in Painting Dixie Red

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780813036847
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813043999 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813036847.003.0009
A Southern Road Less Traveled: The 1966 Gubernatorial Election and (Winthrop) Rockefeller Republicanism in Arkansas

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This chapter argues that neither the “southern strategy” (or “white backlash” thesis) nor newer Suburban School explanations adequately account for how and why the South became Republican. By focusing on the gubernatorial career of northern Republican Winthrop Rockefeller in Arkansas, the chapter rejects the “southern strategy” of appealing to the distinctive regional politics of the South and the “suburban strategy” of a regional convergence of shared, white middle-class suburban values across the country. The Arkansas example turns established wisdom on its head because, rather than appealing to southern racial conservatism, Rockefeller opposed a strong segregationist Democrat, actively sought black votes, and offered a genuine alternative of liberal, socially progressive reform and spending as a way to move a profoundly poor southern state forward. In doing so, the chapter argues, Rockefeller took a progressive “Republican road less traveled” and effectively set the political agenda in Arkansas for at least the next three decades.

Keywords: Winthrop Rockefeller; Arkansas; “Southern Strategy”; “Suburban Strategy”; Rockefeller Family; Progressive Reform

Chapter.  11592 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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