THE SOUTHERN STRATEGY IS MORE THAN JUST A RECIPE TO ATTRACT VARIous disparate political groupings to the Republican party's presidential ticket; it is an ideological carrot for wooing presidential supporters into the Republican party. Reinforcing the South Strategy's messages are the Grand Old Party's (GOP) efforts to build on their presidential triumphs by transferring this success at the top to other levels of electoral competition ( Bass and De Vries 1976, 31). Once the party has built a successful presidential coalition in a state, it concentrates its resources to build a winning coalition at the lower levels of competition--contests for the U.S. Senate, state gubernatorial offices, congressional seats, and, lastly, state legislature posts. For purposes of this book, this mode of party development is labeled as "Republican top-down advancement."
At one political level, the wisdom of this strategy is apparent. By 1980 the Republicans possessed ten of the twenty-two Senate seats, five of the eleven governorships, and little over 30 percent of the U.S. House seats ( Bullock 1987). By 1994, Southern Republicans had increased their control to 13 of 22 U.S. Senate seats, 6 of 11 governorships, and 64 of 125 U.S. House seats. However, at another political level, the wisdom of this strategy is less than lucid. The conservative, sometimes racial, sometimes religious, content of the Southern Strategy's messages entices many conservative reactionaries into the party who clash with the Republicans' natural base, the upwardly mobile, business and professional classes who have come to typify the "new South" ( Sundquist 1983, ch. 18). This has led to the situation where some Republican state parties are strife-torn and lack ideological coherence on social issues.
In addition, the top-down advancement process means that while the GOP now possesses a majority of national offices and governorships, it still only controls three of twenty-two state legislative chambers. Despite this