It is time to return to one of our favorite subjects around here: the evolution of Southern politics, the return of the Solid South, the hardening of White racial attitudes, and the construction of the Juan Crow system.
The 2011 state legislative elections are rapidly approaching in Virginia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and New Jersey. 578 state legislative seats will be up for grabs. The first round of elections will take place in Louisiana on Saturday where the Democratic Party has quietly failed to field a single major candidate for statewide office.
The stakes are high: a shift of four seats in the Virginia Senate could result in Republican control of the state legislature; the Democratic-controlled Mississippi House will be up for grabs; a stronger Republican majority in the Louisiana House would make “controversial” legislation more feasible.
Why are these elections so important?
(1) In Virginia, the Democratic-controlled Virginia Senate blocked 10 out of 12 immigration bills that passed the Republican-controlled Virginia House.
(2) In Mississippi, the Republican-controlled Mississippi Senate was one of the first state legislative chambers to pass an Arizona-style immigration law that was killed by the Democratic-controlled Mississippi House.
(3) In Mississippi, a state initiative for a tough Voter ID law will be on the ballot.
(4) In Kentucky, the Republican challenger to Gov. Steve Beshear shuttled an Arizona-style immigration law through the Kentucky Senate within days (the first state legislative chamber in the nation to accomplish this in 2011), which Democrats later killed in the Kentucky House.
Unfortunately, it looks like Sen. David Williams is will be going down in a blowout loss to Gov. Beshear. Democrats also hung on to the Kentucky House in the 2010 elections. From 2007 to 2010, 35,000 illegal aliens moved to Kentucky from the other states.
In spite of this, the trend is clear: in 1986, the Republicans controlled 2 governorships in the South; in 2000, the Republicans controlled 7 governorships, 3 state houses, and 5 state senates; in 2011, the Republicans control 10 governorships, 10 state houses, and 10 state senates.
As things stand today, Republicans control the governorship and the state legislature in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. Three of these states passed tough immigration packages in 2011, two punted on immigration reform until 2012, one passed an E-Verify bill, and powerful elites narrowly defeated populist conservatives in the other two.
The Democrats control the governorships of Kentucky, North Carolina, Arkansas, and West Virginia. They control the state house in Mississippi and Kentucky, the state senate in Virginia, and both chambers of the state legislature in West Virginia and Arkansas.
What does this mean?
It means that White Southerners have been splitting their votes between the two parties since the 1960s. The White vote has been divided since the heyday of the Civil Rights Movement. The base of the Republican Party in the South was the suburbs which resulted in more moderate policies on social issues.
As the more conservative Democrats in the Deep South began to switch parties in the 1990s and 2000s, the state Republican parties became much more conservative. Now that the White vote is consolidating in Dixie in the Republican Party, the conservative wing is becoming ascendant over the moderate wing.
In 2011, the Democratic governors of Missouri and North Carolina vetoed Voter ID bills. The Democratic-controlled Mississippi House and Kentucky House killed immigration reform in both states. The Democratic-controlled Virginia Senate killed immigration reform. The Democratic-controlled Arkansas House killed a bill that would have banned in-state tuition for illegal aliens.
In every single Southern state, the Democratic Party either blocked or attempted to block immigration reform. Democratic control of a Southern state legislature or governorship guaranteed the defeat of Voter ID or Arizona-style immigration laws. There is not a single redeemable thing that can be said about the Democratic Party on immigration.
The Republican Party is another story: even in states where immigration reform was tabled or defeated, defeat was never guaranteed and we have much better shot at passing reform now that the bolder states are trailblazing through the legal obstacles.
Mississippi, Louisiana, and Virginia could easily be the next states to pass strong E-Verify laws and Arizona-style immigration laws. If any of our readers live in the states, I strongly encourage you to show up at the polls and cast your vote against the Democratic Party.
DO NOT BE FOOLED: in Dixie, there is a huge difference at the state level between the two parties on immigration, and removing the Democrats from power will likely eliminate the biggest obstacle to passing tough new state immigration laws.