Where Did Mississippi’s Democrats Go?By Sandra Knispel | Published 16 Nov 2011 09:10am |
Fewer and fewer statewide political positions in Mississippi are filled by Democrats. As MPB’s Sandra Knispel reports, last week’s election results, which saw overwhelming gains for Mississippi Republicans, are simply the continuation of a trend towards a largely conservative state.
Basically, electoral trends in Mississippi have been moving steadily away from the Democratic to the Republican Party over the last few decades. In fact, William Winter’s election as governor in 1979 was the high-water mark for the Democratic Party. Thirty years hence, very few Democrats have a chance at statewide positions, says Andy Taggart, a Madison attorney who was once executive director for the state’s Republican Party.
“There just aren’t enough votes for Democrats to be elected statewide unless they are incumbents or unless we lose.”
Speaking last night at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at the University of Mississippi, Taggart and his Democratic counterpart, Jere Nash, a veteran consultant for Democratic candidates in Mississippi, agreed that the Republican dominance in the Magnolia state won't be short-lived.
“Everybody across the country wonders why did Democrats lose the South? It’s just that the same people who’ve been living in Mississippi all their lives, who have always been conservative on a whole variety of matters, just switched from Democrat to Republican because Republicans became known as the national party for conservatives and the Democrats became known as the national party for liberals,” Nash explains.
A staunch pro-life supporter and one who voted “yes” on the so-called Personhood Amendment, Taggart says it was the ballot initiatives, not the gubernatorial race, that brought out record numbers of voters.
“It was those initiatives driving voter turnout," Taggart says. "But it also demonstrates my premise, which is that when voter turnout is very high, Republicans win. And when it’s even higher Republicans win by a wider margin.”
Jere Nash called the voter spread of nearly 200,000 votes between the two gubernatorial candidates a quote “tsunami” that few Democratic candidates could withstand.
Sandra Knispel, MPB News, Oxford.
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