The Southern Strategy Revisited: Republican Top-Down Advancement in the South

By Joseph A. Aistrup | Go to book overview

SECTION 2

CHAPTER 2, 3, AND 4 PRESENTED THE TWO MAJOR INSTRUMENTS THAT THE Republicans used to develop a party base in the South: (1) the wedge issues revolving around the Southern Strategy--enticing Southern white voters to cast their lot with Republican presidential candidates; and (2) the top-down strategy, which the Republicans use to parlay their presidential candidates' successes into developing viable and self-sustaining local political parties. As noted in chapters 3 and 4, the subnational progress resulting from the Republican top-down advancement process lags behind the statewide and national electoral levels. In addition, it has taken over thirty years for the Republicans to break the Democratic majority at the national and statewide levels.

Theories pertaining to the extended length of this process usually address the number of obstacles that the GOP encountered before the 1990s when attempting to establish their party base in the South. Understanding the past obstacles to GOP advancement illuminates the discussion on the future of the Republican party in the South. Chapters 5, 6, 7, and 8 address some of the significant explanations for why it has taken about thirty years for the GOP to reach its historic electoral peaks in 1994. These chapters focus on the role of ideology, intraparty politics, gerrymandering, and Democratic incumbency to explain the facilitation (or lack thereof) of Republican top-down advancement. They also attempt to ascertain the extent to which these obstacles remain significant for GOP subnational advancement in the 1990s. There are some intriguing answers that do not always support the conventional wisdom about Southern politics. The final chapter in this section builds a coherent model of GOP subnational advancement, focusing on the interaction between top-down advancement and the Southern Strategy.

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