Traditional Politics and Its Transformation
At the origin of the Southern one-party system stood the single figure of the Negro...and the Negro must be supplanted by other concerns before one-party supremacy will break down.
Alexander Heard, A Two-Party South?, 1952
I hope that segregation as a political issue is dead forever. I believe that essentially it is.
Governor Dale Bumpers, 1971
For the first seventeen presidential elections in the twentieth century, Arkansas went Democratic, and did so by margins far exceeding the national Democratic norm. Elections to the U.S. Congress were just as consistently Democratic, and the Democratic candidate won the governor ship in thirty-three successive elections from 1900 to 1964. In fact, the average Republican percentage of the gubernatorial vote from 1900 to 1948 was less than 15 percent and from 1950 to 1960 only 22 percent. Republicans never held more than five seats (and usually only two) out of one hundred in the state house of representatives, and never more than one (and usually none) in the state senate from 1900 until 1982. In short, Arkansas was the most thoroughly and consistently Democratic state of any in the nation. While these figures represent a total triumph for the Democrats, however, they were produced by a political system that was only minimally democratic.1
In terms of voting participation, for example, the record was dismal both