Race, Campaign Politics, and the Realignment in the South

James M. Glaser

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September 10, 1998
248 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
ISBN: 9780300077230
Paper

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Since the Voting Rights Act of 1965, growing numbers of southerners have called themselves Republicans, and Republican candidates have carried the South in presidential elections. Yet the Democratic Party has persisted in winning southern congressional elections. In this engagingly written book, James M. Glaser explains this political phenomenon, investigating six special U.S. House elections won by Democrats from 1981 to 1993 in Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, and Virginia.

Glaser draws upon his own direct observations, news reports, and extensive interviews with election participants—candidates, advisors, journalists, labor leaders, party officials, black ministers, volunteers, and others—to demonstrate that issues of group conflict and race continue to have an enormous impact on congressional politics in the South. According to Glaser, southern Democrats have prolonged realignment and kept control of local elections through a variety of tactics. Most important, southern Democrats have been able to construct biracial coalitions in an ever-changing political environment. Glaser's analysis offers insight into what led Democrats to be so unexpectedly successful in the Reagan-Bush years and into what they must do if they are to survive the increasingly powerful force of southern Republicanism.

James M. Glaser is assistant professor of political science at Tufts University.

"Glaser gives us an interesting and important look at southern electoral politics through a methodology that needs more use—careful eyewitness accounts of contexts and events."—David Mayhew, Yale University

"Glaser has succeeded in admirable capturing important parts of the mosaic of realignment in the South, and Race, Campaign Politics, and the Realignment in the South is a valuable addition to the literature of contemporary southern politics."—Dan T. Carter, Journal of Southern History

"Glaser effectively presents a nuanced story of party strategies in a critical electoral era, successfully addresses the theoretical conundrum posed by the incomplete realignment, and offers a persuasive explanation for it. In addition, he adds a great deal of information about recent southern electoral politics; provides interesting insights into the interaction between large-scale, seemingly inexorable political forces and the maneuvers of political elites; reminds us of the continued utility of the kind of hands-on research that he has done, and lays the groundwork for studying other political races to refine our understanding further."—Joel H. Silbey, Journal of Interdisciplinary Study

"This is an excellent, well-documented analysis of recent post-civil rights congressional elections. . . . Highly recommended for public, college, and university libraries."—Choice

"Well documented and researched, Glaser's book takes an anthropological approach to the transformation of the southern United States in its political metamorphous and observes four key congressional by-elections to test his thesis. His approach adds flavour and insight into the normally poll-driven analyses which increasingly tend to characterize American political science."—Robert M. Worcester, Political Studies

"This is an excellent work, a must read for students of southern politics. This book follows in the tradition of V.O. Key Jr.'s Southern Politics which is arguably the greatest work in southern politics."—Judson L. Jeffries, Purdue University

"Well-written. . . . This book is likely to be of interest to those who are concerned about race relations in general and voting behavior in particular in the South."— Richard J. Payne, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

"Glaser has answered very well and in a straightforward manner the question of Democratic congressional survival in the south's increasing hostile environment. As he found, the Democratic Party has been successful at holding onto southern congressional seats by finding superior candidates and running superior campaigns. Or, as he puts it, 'It takes more than having the right message. The right messenger must deliver it.'"—Rep. Glen Browder (D-Ala.)

Winner of the 1997 V.O. Key Book Award given for the best book on southern politics by the Southern Political Science Association

Winner of a 1997 Outstanding Political Science Books Award given by Choice Magazine