ANALYSIS: MIDTERMS A SHOW OF WOE FOR SOUTHERN DEMOCRATS
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
One look at a color-coded map of midterm election results in any Southern state tells the story – there’s a tsunami of red and a shrinking pool of blue.
Take Texas, for example, with its 254 counties. Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn carried 236 of them; the Republican candidate for governor, Attorney General Greg Abbott, carried 235. The only blue is found in Dallas, El Paso, Austin and along the Mexican border.
But that’s still more blue than in Oklahoma, where both Republican U.S. Senate candidates swept all 77 counties, and in West Virginia, where GOP Senate candidate Shelley Moore Capito swept all 55, despite the fact that Democrats have a 350,000-person lead in voter registration.
A deeper look at the numbers from the midterm elections shows just how far Democrats have fallen from the halcyon days when they had an iron grip on the solid South. They’re not just losing; lately, they’re not even competitive.
And perhaps even more troubling for Democrats is the fact that the dam seems to have burst in states in the upper South, where the party had been holding its own at the state level.
REPUBLICANS MAKE GAINS IN STATEHOUSES ACROSS THE SOUTH
The GOP picked up seats in 15 of the 21 state legislative chambers on the ballot in the November 4 election, including taking complete control in West Virginia for the first time in more than 80 years and padding their majorities in Arkansas and Florida. However, Democrats managed to keep their majority in the Kentucky House, which could doom plans by Republican U.S Senator Rand Paul to run for both the White House and his Senate seat in 2016. (Posted November 10)
GOP SNATCHES THREE DEMOCRAT-HELD U.S. SENATE SEATS
Southern Republicans are jubilant after voters in the midterm elections gave them three Democratic seats and forced another into a December runoff, helping to usher in a GOP majority in Washington. Republicans managed to make those gains without losing either of their two seats that were in jeopardy, in Kentucky and Georgia. With those losses, the number of Democrats representing Southern states was cut from eight to four, with one other Democrat-held seat still undecided. (Posted November 5)
REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS SURVIVE IN FLORIDA AND GEORGIA
The Republican firewall held at the gubernatorial level across the South in the November 4 midterm election, with the GOP keeping endangered seats in Florida and Georgia and taking away a Democrat-held seat in Arkansas. Republicans will now hold 11 of the 14 governorships in Southern states. In Florida, Republican Governor Rick Scott beat back a challenge from former Governor Charlie Crist, while in Georgia, Republican Governor Nathan Deal easily fended off a challenge from Democratic State Senator Jason Carter. (Posted November 5)
FOUR SOUTHERN DEMOCRATIC U.S. HOUSE MEMBERS DEFEATED
The four Democratic incumbents who lost their seats in the November 4 midterm elections included Nick Rahall in West Virginia, John Barrow in Georgia, Joe Garcia in Florida and Pete Gallego in Texas. All four represented districts that Mitt Romney carried in 2012. Republicans also took an open Democrat-held seat in North Carolina, giving them a 112-39 advantage in Southern U.S. House seats come January. The only GOP loss was in Florida, where Gwen Graham, the daughter of former U.S. Senator Bob Graham, narrowly defeated Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland. (Posted November 5)
AMERICAN IDOL CLAY AIKEN DEFEATED IN HIS BID FOR U.S. HOUSE
American Idol finalist Clay Aiken has been defeated in his first bid for public office, a U.S. House race in his native North Carolina. Aiken, 35, running as a Democrat in the state’s 2nd District was defeated by incumbent two-term GOP U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers by a margin of 59 percent to 41 percent in the November 4 vote. The Esquire Network has announced that Aiken’s campaign would be the subject of a TV reality series set to air in 2015. Aiken was trying to become the first openly gay man elected to Congress from the South. (Posted November 6)
LOUISIANA: EDWARDS IN RUNOFF; “KISSING CONGRESSMAN” OUT
Former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards, 87, a larger-than-life Democrat who spent eight years behind bars for corruption, has earned a spot in the runoff for the 6th District U.S. House seat. He will now face Republican Garret Graves in the December 6 runoff. In the 5th District, GOP U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister, whose political career went into free fall after a video surfaced showing him passionately kissing a female staffer, finished fourth with just 11 percent of the vote. (Posted November 6)
- Louisiana: Landrieu (D) 42; Cassidy, 41. December 6 runoff
- Arkansas: Cotton, 57; Pryor 40 +17
- North Carolina: Tillis, 47; Hagan, 47 +2
- West Virginia (Open): Capito: 62; Tennant 35 +28
- Alabama: Sessions, uncontested
- Georgia (open): Perdue, 53; Nunn, 47 +6
- Kentucky: McConnell 56; Grimes, 41 +14
- Mississippi: Cochran, 60; Childers, 37 +23
- Oklahoma: Inhofe, 60; Silverstein, 29 +31
- Oklahoma (Open): Lankford, 68; Johnson, 29 +39
- South Carolina: Graham 55; Hutto, 39 +16
- South Carolina: Scott 61; Dickerson, 37 +24
- Tennessee: Alexander, 62; Ball, 32 +30
- Texas: Cornyn, 62; Alameel, 34 +28
- Virginia: Warner 49; Gillespie, 48.
- Arkansas (Open): Hutchinson, 55; Ross, 42 +13
- Alabama: Bentley, 64; Griffith, 36 +28
- Florida: Scott, 48; Crist, 47 +1
- Georgia: Deal, 53; Carter 45 +8
- Oklahoma: Fallin, 56; Dorman, 41 +15
- South Carolina: Haley, 56; Sheheen, 41 +15
- Tennessee: Haslam, 70; Brown, 23 +47
- Texas (Open): Abbott, 59; Davis, 39 +20
- Florida 26: Curbelo; 52; Garcia, 49 +3
- Georgia 12: Allen, 55; Barrow, 45 +10
- Texas 23: Hurd, 50; Gallego, 48 +2
- West Virginia 3: Jenkins, 55; Rahall, 45 +10
- Florida 2: Graham, 50; Southerland, 49 +1