IN THE 1986 ELECTIONS, PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, ONE OF THE MOST popular presidents in modern history, expended much political capital to help the Republicans maintain control of the U.S. Senate. Despite his extensive campaigning in the South, the Republicans lost control of the four seats that they had won in 1980 and, consequently, control of the U.S. Senate. Ironically, in the same election the Republicans won governorships in many of the same states that they lost U.S. Senate seats. This event, more than any other, initiated my interests in Southern politics.
As I began to read about Southern politics, I was impressed with the breadth and quality of the work. Scholars such as V. O. Key, Charles Bullock, Alexander Lamis, Jack Bass, Walter De Vries, Earl Black, and Merle Black have studied the South extensively. Their works enlightened me concerning the various nuances of Southern politics, and I am indebted to each of these scholars.
Like most students of Southern politics, I became interested in the emerging Republicanism in the South. However, the focus of most Southern politics research was on the statewide or national level, or on partisanship. Although these analyses have resolved many significant questions, there were still many significant propositions that this literature was unable to convincingly answer.
As I began my research, I turned my attention to the forgotten level of analysis--the local level--where there was much fertile soil. I became intrigued with the question of why the Republicans were making such great progress at the statewide/national level, while at the same time making little headway at the local level. This book is an attempt to answer this question.
There are many people to thank. Professor Ronald Weber and Professor James Gibson provided important data that allowed me to complete