Synopses & Reviews
Since 1950, the South has undergone the most dramatic political transformation of any region in the United States. The once Solid-meaning Democratic-South is now overwhelmingly Republican, and long-disenfranchised African Americans vote at levels comparable to those of whites. In The Rational Southerner, M.V. Hood III, Quentin Kidd, and Irwin L. Morris argue that local strategic dynamics played a decisive and underappreciated role in both the development of the Southern Republican Party and the mobilization of the region's black electorate. Mobilized blacks who supported the Democratic Party made it increasingly difficult for conservative whites to maintain control of the Party's machinery. Also, as local Republican Party organizations became politically viable, the strategic opportunities that such a change provided made the GOP an increasingly attractive alternative for white conservatives. Blacks also found new opportunities within the Democratic Party as whites fled to the GOP, especially in the deep South, where large black populations had the potential to dominate state and local Democratic Parties. As a result, Republican Party viability also led to black mobilization.
Using the theory of relative advantage, Hood, Kidd, and Morris provide a new perspective on party system transformation. Following a theoretically-informed description of recent partisan dynamics in the South, they demonstrate, with decades of state-level, sub-state, and individual-level data, that GOP organizational strength and black electoral mobilization were the primary determinants of political change in the region. The authors' finding that race was, and still is, the primary driver behind political change in the region stands in stark contrast to recent scholarship which points to in-migration, economic growth, or religious factors as the locus of transition. The Rational Southerner contributes not only to the study of Southern politics, but to our understanding of party system change, racial politics, and the role that state and local political dynamics play in the larger context of national politics and policymaking.
"Scholars have long been fascinated by the transformation of the South from a Democratic bastion to a Republican stronghold. Hood, Kidd, and Morris develop an innovative theoretical argument, denoted relative advantage theory, to explain this transformation, and they document convincingly the causal pas de deux that has taken place in the South over time between the growth of the Republican Party and the mobilization of black voters. The authors have written a superb book that will quickly become a major work in the study of southern politics, political realignments, and racial politics."--James C. Garand, Emogine Pliner Distinguished Professor and R. Downs Poindexter Professor, Louisiana State University
"Southern whites found a comfortable new home in the GOP. Unable to dominate the Democratic Party after Jim Crow fell, whites found a home where political compromise was Unnecessary. As The Rational Southerner shows, this trend toward 'white flight' was also an act of political flight that enabled a two-party South."--Ronald Keith Gaddie, The University of Oklahoma; co-author of The Triumph of Voting Rights in the South
About the Author
is Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Georgia.
Quentin Kidd is Associate Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Government Department at Christopher Newport University.
Irwin L. Morris is Professor and Department Chair of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland.
Table of Contents
Section I: Theory and Background
Ch. 1: Introduction
Ch. 2: A Half Century of Political Change in the South
Ch. 3: The Strategic Dynamics of Southern Political Change
Ch. 4: Relative Advantage in Action: Case Studies in the Evolution of Republican State Parties in the South
Section II: Republican Growth
Ch. 5: Putting Relative Advantage to the Test: State-Level Republican Growth in the Modern American South
Ch. 6: Relative Advantage and Republican Growth at the Sub-State Level
Ch. 7: An Examination of the Theory of Relative Advantage at the Individual-Level
Section III: Black Mobilization
Ch. 8: Relative Advantage in a Post-VRA World: Black Voter Registration in the Modern South
Section IV: Conclusion
Ch. 9: Summary and Concluding Thoughts
Appendix A: Data Sources
Appendix B: Variable Operationalizations
Appendix C: Ancillary Statistical Models Works Cited