Title of Abstract

The Effects of the Southern Strategy and Distrust of the GOP

Submitting Student(s)

Alexander BowersFollow

Faculty Mentor

Two WU mentors: Jennifer Disney, Ph.D.; Brendan Renallo-Benavidez, Ph.D.; disneyj@winthrop.edu; benavidezb@winthrop.edu

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Political Science

Faculty Mentor

Jennifer Disney, Ph.D. and Brandon Ranallo-Benavidez, Ph.D.

Abstract

This paper examines the lingering effects of the infamous “Southern Strategy” by the Republican Party and the negative side effects it has caused since its implementation. Denison Kitchel, advisor to late-Senator Goldwater, was the pioneering campaign manager who showed the political benefit for the GOP of fear mongering and racially charged politics in the South. Over the years, top presidential campaign officials including Lee Atwater, Roger Stone, and John Mitchell have deployed this strategy to varying degrees of success. Used to frame racial/ethnic minorities for crime, the Southern Strategy has severely damaged the socio-political climate of the South. Since the formal ending of Jim Crow, the Southern GOP has struggled to recruit candidates of color in the South, with a few notable exceptions. A lack of descriptive diversity among Republican candidates will have a detrimental impact to the party’s voter base in the coming decades as the United States’ population continues to shift towards a majority of the population coming from racial/ethnic minority backgrounds. For the sake of the GOP’s continued viability, changes must be made. This paper examines how distrust and fear of the GOP has been a major contributing factor to the decreasing racial and ethnic diversity of Republican voters in the South. I argue that re-imagined messaging and strategy, away from racialized fear mongering and towards egalitarian opportunities, is the way Republican strategists should capitalize on the shifting voter base of the South.

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Course Assignment

PLSC 490 - Disney & Benavidez

Type of Presentation

I am willing to give either an oral or poster presentation

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The Effects of the Southern Strategy and Distrust of the GOP

This paper examines the lingering effects of the infamous “Southern Strategy” by the Republican Party and the negative side effects it has caused since its implementation. Denison Kitchel, advisor to late-Senator Goldwater, was the pioneering campaign manager who showed the political benefit for the GOP of fear mongering and racially charged politics in the South. Over the years, top presidential campaign officials including Lee Atwater, Roger Stone, and John Mitchell have deployed this strategy to varying degrees of success. Used to frame racial/ethnic minorities for crime, the Southern Strategy has severely damaged the socio-political climate of the South. Since the formal ending of Jim Crow, the Southern GOP has struggled to recruit candidates of color in the South, with a few notable exceptions. A lack of descriptive diversity among Republican candidates will have a detrimental impact to the party’s voter base in the coming decades as the United States’ population continues to shift towards a majority of the population coming from racial/ethnic minority backgrounds. For the sake of the GOP’s continued viability, changes must be made. This paper examines how distrust and fear of the GOP has been a major contributing factor to the decreasing racial and ethnic diversity of Republican voters in the South. I argue that re-imagined messaging and strategy, away from racialized fear mongering and towards egalitarian opportunities, is the way Republican strategists should capitalize on the shifting voter base of the South.