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Britain’s tribal allegiances are changing

Politics is about many things, but one of the big things that it is about is which political tribe you are a member of, and about how big the various tribes are. So, when a whole tranche of voters manage to persuade themselves out of membership of one of the big tribes, it’s a very big deal.

As Guido puts it:

Voting UKIP was in hindsight a gateway to voting Tory.

Key word there: “gateway”. A general election is about more than what voters merely think. It is about how they see themselves. It is about who they are, and about which self-definitional barriers they might now be willing to cross, which gateways they might now be willing to pass through.

For many decades, millions of people in Britain didn’t just vote Labour. They were Labour. Not a few millions still are Labour and will vote accordingly. But the rise of UKIP, and then the Brexit referendum which UKIP made happen, spoke to an at least equally deep idea of who many Labour voters are, comparable even with being Labour. They are: British, English, not European. (See also: Scotland.)

In retrospect, I think we can see that the rise of UKIP and the subsequent Brexit referendum didn’t just change Britain’s relationship with EUrope. They also changed Britain itself, by creating new allegiances and new connections between hitherto hostile tribesmen, and it weakened many old loyalties and connections and created new tribal divisions. Both the Labour and the Conservative tribes emerged from the UKIP/referendum episode changed. The Conservative tribe emerged stronger and bigger. The Labour tribe emerged weaker and smaller.

Add to the above the toxic Jeremy Corbyn, who is the most anti-English, anti-British front-line English/British politician in my lifetime, and you can see why those Labour tribal allegiances have started seriously to fray. Echoing Barack Obama, Jeremy Corbyn’s view of the world is that Anglo-America needs to count for less in that world and that whoever else thinks that too is a friend. Luckily for us Brits, Corbyn has little of Obama’s duplicity or rhetorical skill. And nor can Corbyn or his supporters play the race card.

So, what Corbyn communicates to all those wavering Labour tribespersons is not that they are now betraying their tribe, but that Corbyn and his leftist gang have already betrayed them. Corbyn is pushing potential Labour deserters through Guido’s gateway.

Meanwhile, those toxically exclusive Etonian Conservatives – Cameron and Osborne – have been replaced by that quintessence of inclusive Middle Englishness, Theresa May. We libertarians are all grumbling about what Theresa May believes, and we are quite right to do so. But it is what she is that is now making the difference.

Interesting times.

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38 comments to Britain’s tribal allegiances are changing

  • George

    Interesting times, yes… but it any of this particularly new? Margaret Thatcher brought Middle England to the top of the Conservative Party 40 years ago. And a lot of the working class – the sort of people who bought their Council houses – deserted Labour during her time at the top. In other words, tribal realignments have happened before. What is interesting is how the Etonians managed to make their come-back…

  • Paul Marks

    In London there seems to be a leftist bubble – I was in London on Friday and parts of it were full of leftists doing weird things such as posing for “selfies” next to homeless people in the gutters of East London – and laughing as they did so, they were most definitely leftists but of an odd type that regards the poor (and drink and drunk addicted) as amusing, and to be used as props.

    The “London Evening Standard” (with its vast “circulation” of being thrown around for free – financed by Big Business advertising) is supposedly edited by a Conservative – but Mr Osborne certainly would not be considered a Conservative outside London, his publication was pushing Marxist plays (forget the stuff about “it is meant ironically” “irony” actually covers up for the fact that people actually believe what they are pretending to be “ironic” about) and denouncing Mayor Khan from-the-left – demanding that Mayor Khan spend more tax money on just about everything. The “Evening Standard” even appeared to be hostile to British independence and to support the vile European Union. If (and I did say “if” – I am not going to write off a city of some eight million people on the basis of one horrible day and reading a vile “newspaper” written by radical Big Government types with P.C. attitudes) this is the sort of Playpen despotism that is popular in London the place is best avoided – left to its Bank of England Credit Bubble economy.

    However, outside London I suspect that Brian is correct.

    The Labour Party and the (equally wicked) Lib Dems are certainly NOT defeated (their promises of ever more government spending attract many people) – but they do seem to be weakening.

    We will know in a month.

  • JS

    I think it would be a mistake to think that former Labour voters who went through UKIP to vote Tory at the next election will all stay there.
    Until now anyone who wanted the UK out of the EU as a major priority HAD to vote UKIP but is likely to see voting Tory now as being the surest way of affirming their Brexit vote. They aren’t falling in love with the Tories per se.
    If/when we are safely out of the EU and if/when Labour is lead by someone more palatable many will go back, especially if UKIP doesn’t provide a credible option post-Brexit.

  • Mal Reynolds

    @Paul Marks: what London has is a mix of: young childless adults aged 18-30, ethnic minorities, civil servants and rich white families who can afford the mortgages. It’s a potent combination for modern day Labour politics.

    I happen to live within Corbyn’s own constituency and an ultra-safe Labour seat to boot. Torn between voting against him just on the off chance he loses his own seat or abstaining and amusing myself at Labour being stuck with him into the next 5 years.

  • Rob Thorpe

    > What is interesting is how the Etonians managed to make their come-back…

    I think this is because of their optimism. During the long Blair years it looked as though conservatism was finished and perhaps the Conservative party was too. It seems to me that fewer of the toffs believed that than the more middle class conservatives did. I think there are some lessons we can learn from that.

  • PeterT

    I will still find it a struggle to vote Tory. Maybe for the last time though…

  • Cal Ford

    So there’s a story out that 100 Labour MPs will break away from Corbyn after the election (assuming there are 100 Labour MPs left after the election) to try to force him out. This could end in either the renewal of the Labour party, who end up back in power, or the birth of a strong new mildly left-wing party who end up in power before too long, or, as I hope, the start of a long-term split in the left with two weaker parties fighting it out (in addition to the LibDems).

  • Lee Moore

    There was one of these death of the Labour Party vox pops on the BBC website (no really) reporting from Mansfield, and I recall a chap being quoted as saying something along the lines of “I’ve always been old socialist Labour. But these people [ie Corbyn and mates] are communists. I’ve voting Conservative this time.”

    Which seems to me to be spot on. The Labour Party has always had communists (both Soviet apologists and Trots) tucked away, and it’s always had its Marxist or at least Marxist inspired intellectuals. But most of it, and certainly most of its voting base has been thoroughly patriotic. Which is a good thing, because though they may wreck the economy every time they get in, this is mostly just honest stupidity not wickedness.

    The crawling things that now lead Labour are of a different sort. I don’t think Corbyn will resign even if Labour is knocked down to 120 seats (it won’t be) because he’s captured one of the two parties that could form a government and he’s hoping that the pendulum will swing back far enough to let him in, if the economy goes pear shaped. So that then he can introduce a fully fledged Chavista regime.

    I’m fairly confident that he’s more likely to destroy the Labour Party, and produce some kind of realignment over the next ten years or so. But the death of the old Labour Party is not unalloyed good news. One does prefer an alternative government that is broadly pro-Britain rather than viscerally agin it.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    You are right about Corbyn’s anti-Englishness turning the English off him, but an even more striking tribal realignment seems to be happening in Wales, where Corbyn might have hoped that his anti-Englishness would play better. It doesn’t. There was a Guardian piece about Brigend today:

    Where the two elections collide is in places such as Bridgend, just outside Cardiff. A seat that has been Labour almost since it was created is now so likely to go blue that Theresa May popped in a few days ago for a pre-victory lap. Nor is it alone: polling this week by Roger Scully at Cardiff University puts the Conservatives at their highest rating ever. Scully called Brexit right, and by his projections, May’s party is well on course to win the general election in Wales.

  • Rich Rostrom

    This reminds me of the long slow transformation of the former “Solid South” into the stronghold of the Republican Party.

    That too was a “tribal allegiance” process. After the Civil War, Reconstruction, and Redemption, there was a huge body of white Southerners for whom voting Democratic was practically a conditioned reflex. That reflex transcended all rational considerations. For three generations, anti-Catholic, often anti-Semitic, traditionalist rural Southerners were the most loyal supporters of the party that elsewhere chiefly represented urban Catholics, Jews, and freethinkers.

    For many of these Southerners, rebellion against the national Democrats (initially over civil rights) was the gateway to voting Republican in state and local elections.

  • Laird

    Rich makes a good point: In the 19th century the Democrats were the party of slavery (the Republican party arose precisely because it was anti-slavery), so of course during Reconstruction and far beyond white southerners were all solidly Democrats (and, by the same token, blacks were solidly Republican). The black vote changed during the (Franklin) Roosevelt administration to the solidly Democratic bloc it is to this day. The white southern vote took longer to change, but in the 70’s and 80’s it switched to Republican, where it largely remains. Strom Thurmond (an icon in South Carolina and throughout the south) switched parties in 1964, and many of his compatriots followed suit over the next decade. However, although they changed parties most didn’t change their core beliefs. Many of those “old boys” remain in positions of political power today, and for the most part are still big-government statists; they just have an “R” after their names rather than a “D”. The state is actually very conservative (fiscally and socially) but the political leadership is not. It’s all rather odd, actually.

  • NickM

    Rich, Laird,
    Good and insightful points well made. But you try telling lotsa folk over here Lincoln was a Republican and they just don’t believe you. How could he be? He was in charge of the good guys! It doesn’t compute.

  • bobby b

    What Laird describes for the South holds true for most of rural America these days.

    Just did another driving circle visiting friends and others through the Dakotas, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota, and was surprised that areas which have been traditionally Democrat strongholds for decades – farm country small towns, mostly – have switched tribes.

    The feeling I get from many is that their traditional tribe actually left them some time ago – the Dems stopped valuing the people in these communities – and it took them until the Trump election to allow themselves to admit that they had been dumped. But they now agree that the Democrat Party no longer works for them, while the Republican Party (to some extent) does.

    “Tribes” really does describe the feeling of the people. This was Democrat Country for generations. You can tell that people are very unsettled by this change.

  • bobby b

    “But you try telling lotsa folk over here Lincoln was a Republican . . . “

    While they’re sputtering in disbelief, remind them that Bull Connors and George Wallace – two of the very famous anti-black heavies – were both Democrats, as was the original KKK. That’ll settle them down.

  • Laird

    The KKK was always a Democrat organization. Democratic icon Robert Byrd was a Grand Kleagle (or whatever the title is). Dinesh D’Souza’s film “Hillary’s America” does a good job of detailing the history. (It’s not a great movie but its facts are accurate.)

  • rfichoke

    I live in South Carolina and you couldn’t be more right about this. It’s depressing. Everyone trusts our politicians as long as they have an “R” next to their names and say they love Jesus. Few are willing to consider that politicians might be lying to them or manipulating them. South Carolina is full of very nice decent trusting people whose credulity works against them.

  • bobby b

    “Few are willing to consider that politicians might be lying to them or manipulating them.”

    This may go against conventional wisdom, but I know quite a few politicians from rural America – people who don’t represent any large metropolitan areas but instead answer to predominantly rural, spread-out folk – and they tend to be some of the most honest, forthright, WYSIWYG people I’ve known.

    And, yeah, (recently) they tend to have “R”s after their name, and (since forever) they tend to be Christians – both of which factors you seem to denigrate – but they do not fit into anyone’s conception of the evil dishonest politician out for their own good. I’m hardcore atheist, but the Christian moral code, when not abused, leads to some very impressive selflessness.

    Their constituents’ credulity definitely isn’t working against them when they vote for these people. They are well served. I’m curious whom you think they ought to be electing.

  • rfichoke

    I can’t speak for rural areas outside South Carolina. But a lot of our legislators are as crooked as can be. I’m not denigrating Christianity or our voters. I’m a Christian myself. I’m just disgusted by those who use religion (and social relationships) cynically to take advantage of decent trusting people.

    As far as who we should be electing, we have had some very good candidates like Lee Bright. He was a Senator for a while but was driven out for opposing the good old boy network. Even some of our candidates who promised to oppose the gas tax increase and Hugh Leatherman’s Dept. of Transportation slush fund went wobbly on us once elected.

  • Going back to the point about UKIP being a means by which supporters of Labour are transitioning to the Tories, I don’t think this is the case.

    They are voting for BRexit and previously only UKIP formally supported BRexit.

    In the 2015 election, Cameron promised a referendum, even though he was distrusted on this matter by the multitude it was the only possibility of action against the EU by any party. I firmly believe that by offering this Cameron turned the 2015 election from a marginal Labour victory into a marginal Tory victory.

    Sure, UKIP were a part of that, but with 3 million votes and no MP to show for it (since both MP’s they had were refugees from the Tories) they were more of a marginal threat than a real problem for either the Tories or Labour.

    In the June 2017 election, the only option to achieve any possibility of real BRexit is to vote Tory, since what Labour are touting as “BRexit” is little more than EU membership without power. The Tory base, plus temporary support from anti-EU types in Labour will probably lead to a significant majority, possibly even a landslide, but it will not be a Tory result as a BRexit result with Tory support.

    Will this still be the case if the next election is in 2021/2022 as we should expect based upon traditional 4/5 year government lifecycles?

    I doubt it. By then we will be in a post-BRexit political landscape and what is left of the Labour Party will have (presumably) ditched the Marxist elements that created the rise of Corbyn and MacDonald under someone like Chuka Umunna (essentially a return to the centre left of the Blair years) and returned to electability.

    This assumes that a Labour resurrection is even possible at this stage (and I pray that it isn’t)

    I don’t think we will see another Labour government before 2025 and that will only happen if they can return to the centre.

    If they continue their Marxist navel gazing as they have done under Corbyn then they will continue to decline, but it will take a long time. The “Liberals” have been dying for a century and still haven’t been wiped off the political landscape yet.

  • Patrick Crozier

    A few thoughts:

    Labour is still on 28% in the polls. That is bang on what Michael Foot got and Corbyn is far worse than Foot ever was.

    Labour always goes missing during a depression. They did it in the 1930s, the 1980s and they’re doing it now. A cynic might argue that that is because during a depression there’s nothing more to steal. They also split.

  • Patrick Crozier

    Of course, Labour’s 28% may be a different 28%. What if they are hoovering up the pro-Sharia vote but simultaneously alienating the anti-Sharia vote?

    Also, there is something that I don’t get. 48% of the population voted to Remain in the EU. Many of them seem passionate – often to the point of madness. And yet, the only national party that is unequivocally committed to remaining in the EU – the LibDems – is on single figures. Meanwhile, the Leaver vote is going solidly to the Conservatives. I am hesitant to suggest that the Brexiteers were committed and Remainers half-hearted but that does seem to be the way things are.

  • Patrick, my view FWIW.

    1) There is a great difference between remainers and remoaners. 48% did vote remain. Some voted against their conscience, from fear. Some believed remain claims that they quickly saw were exaggerated. Etc. Many have remained remainers, but accept that the vote was held and the outcome that won will happen, and they now hope the effects won’t be too bad. The remoaners are indeed sore losers to the point of madness. They seem numerous because they occupy many a media or public position. But they are not so many statistically. Thus the LibDems low vote: they are very attractive to remoaners but not so interesting to remainers.

    2) I agree with your speculation that Labour’s 28% today differ from their 28% in Foot’s day. Tony & co imported a lot of voters. Labour will presumably win many of those voters, at the cost of losing many they had before. (Also a minor point of caution: Foot’s 28.4% in 1983 was an actual election outcome. 28% in polls that have tended to overestimate the left may be a bit less when the vote happens. We’ll see.)

  • Runcie Balspune

    The current left-right split broadly defines voters by age, under 30 and Corbyn is seen as a wise old man with bright new ideas, anyone over 50 will probably recall eating by candlelight and how the unions royally f*cked up the country, they’ve seen all this proto-Marxism before and they wont get fooled again. Foreign born would probably lump in with the inexperienced. Labour is betting the youth vote will see them through, but as Brexit proved, they don’t have the motivation of the older generation.

  • anyone over 50 will probably recall eating by candlelight

    Not only that, but we’ve never forgotten the experience of the 3 Day Week, the firemen’s strike of November ’77 and the Winter of Discontent in 1978/79.

    Even today I keep a gas camp stove, 24 canisters of butane and a battery powered carbon monoxide alarm just in case the power goes out again and we end up having to huddle around it for found, light and warmth as we did back in 1974.

    Some lessons never become unlearnt.

  • Tarrou

    I think this analysis is spot on. What bears remembering in addition however, is that these middle-of-the-country people by and large are not political ideologues. They may swing Tory in Britain or Republican in America, but that has the effect of reducing the ideological commitment of those parties. This broadens the base, but reduces the effect. It can put a party in a very strong position, but leave it with little platform to enact. Witness the struggles of the Republicans to do much of anything these days, even with both houses and the Presidency.

    We are seeing a political realignment, but the thing to keep in mind is that political realignments aren’t all that much political.

  • Lee Moore

    I agree with Niall. A fair chunk, maybe even most, of the Remain vote was small c conservative; stick with the status quo to avoid disruption. Although we haven’t yet gone through actual Brexit, the status quo has now shifted to “we’ve got our hat and coat on and we’re heading out.” Moreover the sky has failed, so far, to fall. So a desperate last stand to Remain is not really the status quo any longer. Hence lotsa small c conservatives are now on the “OK, then, we may as well get on with it” bus.

    And for the Conservative party itself, the penny has finally dropped that Leaving will bring the end of the long Tory civil war on the EU. The passionate Conservative Europhiles are few, and ancient. Leave promises unity at last.

  • Runcie Balspune

    One factor to consider in the referendum vote was the willingness to avoid change, this is a strong motive and many people unsure of the future would rather keep things the way they are regardless of how awful it is, the EU seen as an abusive partner.

    The enormity of breaking free of the status quo was a political revelation in itself. There were probably a good proportion of the voters who either abstained or voted remain because of the reluctance to change. To overcome this was a milestone in British politics.

  • Cal Ford

    Agree with the later comments here that most people who voted Remain have accepted what was a democratic result, and are not looking to overturn it. The 48% is now more like the 8%. Also agree that the Conservatives have finally seen that leaving the EU ends the Tory civil war on Europe.

    In addition, the subsequent collapse of the UKIP vote, because the Conservatives are now the party of Leave, will give the Tories large numbers of extra seats, and they’ve finally realized that too. Because the Tories held their nerve, the Remoaners (even the Tory Remoaners) are dwindling in power.

    While it is true that Labour could rebound with a better, and less left-wing leader, I think a lot of voters have left Labour for good. These voters may not be that keen on the Conservatives, true, but the penny has finally dropped for a lot of northern workers that Labour is the party of Islington Sociology lecturers, who dislike Northern workers and their beliefs, and those voters won’t be going back to Labour (and they won’t be voting LibDem either).

  • Alisa

    Witness the struggles of the Republicans to do much of anything these days, even with both houses and the Presidency.

    Tarrou, I agree with your comment, except for that part above. I can hardly speak about the UK, but the struggles of Republicans in Congress have little to do with the preferences of their constituencies, and have much more to do with their own entrenched interests and plain insitutional inertia. 6 years before the Trump “revolution”, people like Paul Ryan and John Boehner were put in Congress by voters who wanted to see some serious changes, and these representatives utterly failed to deliver on their promises to their voters. As far as I can tell, we are seeing much of the same in the current Congress. Of course, as some of the comments above show, it has become quite clear by now that Trump won the Presidency in no small part thanks to “defections” by former hard-core Democrat voters, and that much of his support is populist, not ideological – but I am not at all convinced that this also applies to Republicans in Congress.

    Also a minor (semantic?) beef:

    We are seeing a political realignment, but the thing to keep in mind is that political realignments aren’t all that much political.

    They are very political, in fact – what they are not is ideological.

    What all this means for the future of the Republican party only time can tell.

  • Charlie Suet

    As a small c conservative Remain voter, I’d add that Project Fear backfires ideologically even if it turns out not to be completely ridiculous economically. When you actually think about it, it obliterates the complacent “EU will do for now” attitude that I realise I’ve spent most of my life taking. Nobody alleges that the difficulties of leaving the EU will subside if we just wait – in fact they will probably increase. That in itself vitiates any thought there might have been of conducting regular cost-benefit analyses and getting out when you think the result is negative.

    Project Fear forces one to get off the fence. If you’re not an avowed Europhile, you can no longer pretend that there’s any sort of compromise in the long term. Whether through miscalculation, or Ken Clarke style ‘shut up peasants’ arrogance, those who rule us have been slowly enmeshing us in the EU, such that in twenty or so years we might have had no option at all.

    The other thing I’d say is that calling the option ‘Remain’ gave our continued participation in the European project an utterly spurious veneer of political stability. Nobody can say for certain what the EU will look like in ten years. In contrast, returning power to Parliament lies in the great Anglosphere tradition of the conservative revolution. I suppose Cameron learned his lesson from calling the vote in favour of the Union ‘No’.

  • Jamesg

    Would like to see the stats, but I suspect most Ukip voters were anti EU tories who simply just go back now to the Tories now that that beast is slain Eg. Farage, Carswell. The northern working class voters who went to Ukip because of immigration concerns I would be surprised if Ukip has provided a gateway to the Tories.

    Agree about what is said about the London liberal bubble. It does appear that 25% of the population are virtue signalling socialists with a complete disregard to competence. It seems most of my friends in facebook fall into this category!

    They seem completely incapable of differentiating intentions from likely outcomes. The fact that Corbyn wants to make the world a utopian paradise for the weak is in the virtue signalling social media mindset all that really matters.

  • Stonyground

    If the LibDems are standing on a platform of overturning the Brexit result, they are presumably hoping for the support of a significant proportion of the 48%. As mentioned above, not all of the 48% would want the result overturned now that the vote has been carried by the leavers. Not only that, would anyone really trust a party who had ignoring the opinions of the electorate actually written into their manifesto?

  • PeterT

    In reply to Tarrou’s comment; the UK and US political systems are very different. We have very few checks and balances in the UK and if Theresa May wins a large majority she will in effect have become a dictator for five years. Obviously not a good thing but it will have removed one source of uncertainty (UK politics) from the Brexit negotiations, which I guess is good. She will not be entirely free to ignore the various political groups in the UK, notably the SNP but also the ‘WTO option conservatives’; but legacy remain is likely to form a majority in parliament and can probably be counted upon to support her.

  • Pat

    It all rather depends.
    Corbyn is never going to be elected by the country at large, but he has been handsomely elected twice by Labour members. Is there any chance of his being dumped after the election, and if he is will the Labour membership elect a replacement more appealing to the country at large? I doubt it. The Labour MPs and members who dislike Corbyn will be forced out of the party.
    Once someone has changed his allegiance once then he might do it again. I see no prospect of the present Labour membership listening to voters.
    Faith in trade unions and Socialism has been in decline since the 1970s, else Maggie wouldn’t have been elected, and Blair, who was no socialist and claimed to have found a third way, wouldn’t have been either.
    As I see it Labour will decline to irrelevance.
    This will result in a Tory hegemony for a few years, but once it becomes unmistakably obvious the Tory party will split. After all the only reason a philosophical liberal would be in the Tory party is to ally against Socialism.

  • I agree with Pat about the possibility of a Conservative split, or more probably: splits. This is what victorious coalitions usually do, after they have triumphed.

    Which, by the way, is the argument against what PeterT says, about May becoming “in effect” a dictator. Big majorities cause government backbenchers to become restive, not least because there are not enough frontbench jobs to go round, and the way to make a name for yourself is to make backbench trouble. I’m pretty sure this will happen, if the Conservatives get the sort of majority they now look like getting. And I very much hope, with Pat, that at least some of the trouble that Conservative backbenchers make in the next few years will be the sort of trouble that most of us here will approve of.

  • bobby b

    Alisa
    May 11, 2017 at 9:11 am

    ” . . . the struggles of Republicans in Congress have little to do with the preferences of their constituencies, and have much more to do with their own entrenched interests and plain insitutional inertia.”

    Amen.

    It would be a mistake to consider that the Republicans hold the Senate, House, and Presidency in our country. The Presidency, as well as some of the ostensible Republican-held seats in the House and Senate, are held by what might as well be a third party – the Trumpists, for lack of a better name.

    What’s happening is not an inability for a party-in-complete-power to accomplish anything. We have gridlock caused by a split of power between three parties. No one party holds a majority in anything.

    And Trump is still not Hillary!

  • Runcie Balspune

    @Brian M. A strong woman leader, a conservative mega-majority, ongoing negotiations with Europe to get a better deal, and Labour under the hard left, led by a style-retarded leader of the 1960s and pushed almost to third place – how I miss the eighties!

  • Rich Rostrom

    Laird: “In the 19th century the Democrats were the party of slavery…” That is not really true. The “Slave Power” was more influential among the Democrats, but there were plenty of pro-slavery “Cotton Whigs”, too. In 1860 the South split the Democrats because they wouldn’t be “the party of slavery”.

    What I was referencing was the situation that began during Reconstruction, and continued through the mid-1900s: the Democrats were the party of white supremacy in the South. In states where blacks were 40% to 60% of the population, disfranchising them by fair means or foul became an almost “existential” necessity. This required near-total unification of whites in the Democratic Party – which had not been necessary before the War.

    In 1860, Lincoln got zero votes in seven Southern states (TX, AR, LA, MS, AL, FL, GA), but ex-Whig John Bell got 35.0%. In 1908, in those same states, Republican William Taft got 16.4%. The South had become Solid, to maintain white supremacy.

    Robert Byrd is an interesting case: he was a Democrat from West Virginia, which was not a Southern state (joined the North in the Civil War, voted solidly Republican in 1900-1930). But it was rural and racist, even though there weren’t many blacks there; thus Klan activity.