SHAPIRO: Debunking The Southern Switch

SHAPIRO: Debunking The Southern Switch


One of the favorite refrains of the Democratic Party — attempting to escape its own history of racism and slavery and segregation — is that in the 1960s, the Republican Party hijacked racism, and the Democratic Party abandoned it.

That is not true, and I will tell you why.

Setting the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as the turning point, Democrats point out that the formerly solid Democratic South moved gradually into the Republican camp, while the Republican North turned more Democratic over time. This, they say, was clearly the result of racism coming to the fore in the GOP.

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There’s not much evidence to support this contention. According to professors Richard Johnston of the University of Pennsylvania and Byron Shafer of the University of Wisconsin, “The shift in the South from Democratic to Republican was overwhelmingly a question not of race, but of economic growth.”

The movement toward Republicanism in the South began in the 1950s as the South industrialized. Working class

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