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Trump accelerates Republican shift in counties named for Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
(CFP) — Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee loom large as icons of the Southern Confederacy, so much so that 11 Southern counties and one Louisiana parish bear their names. But if these lions of the South are aware of what is happening in their namesake counties today, they may be rotating in their graves.
Changes in presidential voting in these counties over the past 40 years illustrate just how far the Black Republicans against which Lee and Davis fought are now transcendent—and the alarming (for Democrats) degree to which white Southerners have forsaken their traditional political roots.
Of course, the South’s march toward the GOP is not news. Today, the term “Solid South” has an entirely different connotation than it did during the days of FDR or Lyndon Johnson. However, these namesake counties do provide a window into how these shifts in party preference have occurred over time and the role that race played in them.
The 2016 presidential results also show that the Republicanization of the South is accelerating in these counties that bear the mark of Southern heritage, which bodes ill for future Democratic prospects.
In 1976, when Democrat Jimmy Carter became the first Southerner to win the White House since Zachary Taylor in 1848, he carried nine of the 12 Davis and Lee counties. By 1992, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush were splitting them six-to-six.
By 2000, Republican George W. Bush had flipped nine of the 12 namesake counties his way; his average share of the total votes cast for the two major party candidates in those counties that year was an impressive 64 percent. But in 2016, Trump trumped the younger Bush, carrying those same nine counties with an average of 70 percent of the two-party vote.
In 1976, Republican President Gerald Ford’s share of the two-party vote topped 50 percent in just three namesake counties (in Florida, Alabama, and Kentucky). But by 2016, Trump’s share of the two-party vote was more than 50 percent in nine counties and parishes; above 60 percent in eight; above 70 percent in four; and above a whopping 80 percent in two (Georgia and Kentucky).
The most dramatic changes were in Jeff Davis County, Georgia, where native Georgian Carter carried 79 percent of the vote in 1976 and Trump won 81 percent in 2016, and Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana, where Carter won 62 percent and Trump 75 percent. However, even in majority black Lee County, Arkansas, Trump’s 16-point loss in 2016 was less than half of Ford’s 38-point defeat.
In addition to Lee County, Arkansas, the only namesake counties Trump lost in 2016 were Jefferson Davis County, Mississippi, and Lee County, South Carolina, which are also majority black. However, even in these three counties, Trump carried a larger share of the two-party vote in 2016 than Mitt Romney did in 2012.
In fact, Trump improved on Romney’s result in 11 of the 12 namesake counties, save only Jeff Davis County, Texas, where Trump had to settle for merely matching Romney’s total.
The results in these namesake counties over time also illustrate the role race has played in the political realignment of the South.
In all seven of the overwhelmingly white namesake counties, the Republican share of the two-party vote was higher in 2016 than in 1976, by an average of 29 percent. Trump did better than Romney by an average of 4 percent.
By contrast, in majority-black Lee counties in Mississippi and South Carolina, the Republican two-party share fell by an average 2.5 percent from 1976 to 2016, but Trump outperformed Romney by the same 2.5 percent. These results indicate that the white Southern shift to the Republicans appears stronger than the corresponding black shift to the Democrats.
This is borne out by the results in Lee County, Arkansas, which has the smallest African-American population of any of the majority-black namesake counties (55 percent). There, the Republican share of the two-party vote actually climbed 11 percent between 1976 and 2016, and Trump beat Romney’s total by 5 percent.
Two of the namesake counties—Lee County, Florida, and Jeff Davis County, Texas—are outliers in that they have significant Latino populations. The Republican share of the two-party vote in both of those counties was higher in 2016 than it was in 1976, but Trump’s results were down from the numbers put up in 2000 and 2004 by George W. Bush, who, for a Republican, ran strongly with Latino voters.
The results in the namesake counties also illustrate the mountain which Democrats need to climb if they are to reduce Republican hegemony in the South.
The Democratic base once included small towns and rural areas across the Southern landscape, as well as urban areas. In 2016, Democrats still held the cities (with newfound and welcome signs of life in suburban Atlanta and Houston) and the mostly small rural counties with majority black populations, such as the namesake counties in Arkansas, Mississippi and South Carolina. Democrats also do well in college towns such as Athens, Georgia, and Gainesville, Florida.
But Democrats’ failure to compete for the votes of small town and rural white voters is what is killing them electorally, as the results in the Davis and Lee namesake counties without black majorities vividly illustrates.
Only one of these namesake counties is urban—Lee County, Florida, which includes Fort Myers—and Lee County, Alabama, contains Auburn University. The rest of these counties and parishes are all rural, white areas where Messrs. Davis and Lee are no doubt remembered fondly and Jimmy Carter ran reasonably well—and where Hillary Clinton couldn’t get elected dog catcher if she handed out $20 bills at the polling booth.
As a barometer of the past, these namesake counties illustrate how far Democrats have fallen in their former strongholds. But if Trump’s improved results over Romney’s are a barometer of the future, the bottom may not yet have been reached.
New York Times reports Trump in “dire risk” of losing the Peach State
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
The Times attributed to its October 12 report to people briefed on the polls who spoke on condition of anonymity. The newspaper also reported that Clinton’s campaign has concluded that Georgia is winnable, although her camp has made no move so far to put resources into trying to capture the Peach State.
The Times did not give any specific polling numbers for the race or indicate whether that polling took place before or after video surfaced on October 7 in which Trump made braggadocious comments about being allowed to grab women’s genitals because of his celebrity.
The last public poll in Georgia, conducted by WSB-TV/Landmark on September 20-21, showed Trump at 47 percent and Clinton at 43 percent, which was within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage votes. That means that from a statistical perspective, the race was a tie.
A Republican presidential candidate has not taken Georgia in 24 years, since Clinton’s husband, Bill, carried the state back in 1992. Mitt Romney won it by 8 points in 2012.
In addition to Georgia, three other Southern states are also in play — Virginia, Florida and North Carolina. These four states are the largest in the South outside of Texas, with a combined 73 electoral votes, about a quarter of what is needed to capture the presidency.
The latest state polls show Clinton with a strong lead in Virginia, with races in Florida and North Carolina within the margin of error.
No Democrat has captured all four of these states since Harry Truman back in 1948.
Probe focuses on campaign contributions from a Chinese businessman who also gave to the Clinton Foundation
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
RICHMOND (CFP) — Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe says he was shocked to discover from a news report that he is under investigation by the FBI and the Justice Department over $120,000 in campaign contributions from a Chinese businessman who also gave money to the Clinton Foundation.
But speaking to reporters May 24, a day after the news broke, McAuliffe insisted that contributions from the donor, Wang Wenliang, were legal and that he had been “fully vetted” by the governor’s campaign staff.
He also insisted that the investigation has “nothing to do” with the Clinton Foundation, even though Wang had also given money to the foundation and McAuliffe sits on the board of one of its subsidiaries.
“I didn’t bring the donor in. I didn’t bring him into the Clinton Foundation. I’m not even sure I’ve ever met the person,” McAuliffe said.
The governor was also asked about the more than 100 donors common to his 2013 gubernatorial campaign and foundation, and whether he used his position with the Clinton Foundation to solicit campaign contributions.
McAuliffe explained that given his close relationship with the Clinton family, it would not be surprising to find donors who had given to both the campaign and the foundation.
“I think we’ve traveled in the same circles,” McAuliffe said. “I’ve traveled the globe with President Clinton, and we have a lot of the same friends.
News of the federal investigation was first reported by CNN. which attributed its information to “U.S. officials briefed on the probe.” It centers on $120,000 in contributions to McAuliffe’s campaign by Wang, according to the network.
The reason for the FBI”s scrutiny remains unclear. While foreign nationals are prohibited from giving money to U.S. political campaigns, McAuliffe said that would not apply to Wang because he has been a permanent resident of the United States since 2007, and green-card holders can contribute to campaigns.
That would seem to point to the possibility that a relationship between the McAuliffe campaign and the Clinton Foundation is the focus of the probe. According to some news reports, the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server has expanded to the foundation.
McAuliffe is a longtime associate of Bill and Hillary Clinton, even loaning them money to buy a house after they left the White House in 2001. He was the co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, and both Clintons campaigned for him when he ran for governor.
The governor is on the board of the Clinton Global Initiative, the international outreach arm of the Clinton Foundation, which, since its founding in 1997, has raised more than $2 billion.
Wang is the head of the China Rilin Construction Group. Forbes magazine put his net worth at more than $1 billion.
2014 was a much better year for Republicans than for reality stars revamped as politicos
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
A congressman man caught kissing. Reality stars trying to remake themselves as politicians. A snowstorm that threatened to torpedo a sitting governor. A top U.S. House leader unceremoniously unseated in a primary. And a flap over a fan during a heated debate.
Those were just some of the strange and unlikely events in Southern politics in 2014, a year that ended with Republicans roaring through the region like Sherman in reverse. Here are some of the memorable moments:
Loose Lips Sink More Than Ships — Republican U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister, a married Christian conservative from northeast Louisiana, was caught on videotape passionately kissing a female staffer who was, ahem, not his wife. He refused to resign but decided not to run for re-election. Then, he changed his mind and ran again, with his wife’s vocal support. But his constituents were less forgiving than the missus, and he finished a distant fourth in the primary.
Snowmageddon — When a January snowstorm paralyzed metro Atlanta, Republican Governor Nathan Deal took the heat for a sluggish state response and his initial attempt to shift the blame elsewhere. But Democratic hopes that this snowy debacle might bury Deal had melted by November, when he was comfortably re-elected.
Taking Aim At Obamacare — Alabama Republican U.S. House candidate Will Brooke posted a YouTube video, entitled “Let’s Do Some Damage,” in which he fired bullets into a copy of the Obamacare bill. The gambit gained him a bit of attention, though, alas, not enough to win the primary in his Birmingham-area district.
Strange Bedfellows — Bill Clinton and Rudy Giuliani both waded into the Florida governor’s race this year, cutting ads for Democrat Charlie Crist and Republican Rick Scott, respectively. However, their shoes were on the other feet in 2006, when Crist was a Republican (before becoming an independent and then a Democrat.) Back then, it was Crist who enjoyed Giuliani’s support, while Clinton backed his Democratic opponent.
Overheated Debate — Speaking of the Florida governor’s race, a televised debate between Crist and Scott came to an abrupt halt when Crist insisted on putting a small fan at his feet under the podium, in apparent violation of the debate rules. Scott first refused to take the stage until the fan was removed, but he eventually relented — after seven awkward minutes of scrambling by the debate moderators. In the end, Scott won a narrow victory.
Real Mean Politics — Three reality TV stars — American Idol Clay Aiken, former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards and former South Carolina Treasurer Thomas Ravenel — all vied for political office this year. But political reality proved harsh, as all three lost badly. However, Aiken is turning his unsuccessful U.S. House campaign in North Carolina into — wait for it — a new reality show.
Biggest Upset — In an outcome that shocked the political world, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia lost his Richmond-area seat to Dave Brat, a little known college professor who ran at Cantor as a Tea Party insurgent. Weep not for Cantor, though. He bounced back with a job on Wall Street.
Worst Campaign — Texas State Senator Wendy Davis tried to parlay her filibuster against a bill restricting abortions in the Lone Star State into the governor’s mansion. But a series of gaffes — including questions about the veracity of her rags-to-riches story as a single trailer-park mom made good — sunk her chances, and she lost by a staggering 20 points.
Weirdest Campaign Appearance — Matt Bevin, who was challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in a GOP primary in Kentucky, appeared at a rally hosted by a group that supports legalizing cockfighting. While insisting he didn’t condone cockfighting, Bevin didn’t help himself when he told a radio reporter that the Founder Fathers were “very actively involved” in the blood sport. Perhaps not surprisingly, McConnell won rather handily.
Best Don Quixote Impression — Mississippi State Senator Chris McDaniel — peeved that he was defeated in a GOP U.S. Senate runoff by crossover votes from Democrats and independents — launched a three-month court fight to overturn the result. Alas, his windmill tilting came to naught, and U.S. Senator Thad Cochran kept the seat.
Best Houdini Impression — Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee faced voters for the first time since lurid details emerged from his bitter 2001 divorce during which he admitted a string of extra-marital affairs and — perhaps even more damaging for an avowed right-to-life lawmaker — encouraging his first wife to have two abortions. However, GOP voters in his district proved surprisingly forgiving, handing DesJarlais a narrow primary victory. He went on to win re-election in November.
If You Can’t Override, Indict — Texas Governor Rick Perry was indicted on charges of abuse of power and coercion over his veto of a funding bill for an Austin prosecutor who refused his demand that she resign after being arrested for driving with a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit. A defiant Perry vowed to fight the charges, noting that in America, “we settle our political differences at the ballot box,” rather than in criminal court.
Double Dipper — Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul announced he would run for re-election in 2016, even as he is also considering a White House bid. One pesky little problem, though: Kentucky law doesn’t allow somebody to be on the ballot for two offices at once. Paul’s supporters are trying to find a way to work around that technicality.
Democrat Dam Breaks in Upper South — While the general election was grim for Democrats across the South, the news was especially depressing in Arkansas and West Virginia, which had been places where the party of Jackson was still competitive. In Arkansas, Republicans took all seven statewide constitutional offices and every congressional seat for the first time since Reconstruction. In West Virginia, the GOP took all three U.S. House seats and captured control of the state legislature for the first time since 1931.
“D” Is The New Scarlet Letter — Three sitting Southern Democratic U.S. senators — Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana — all went down to defeat, paving the way for Republicans to take control of the Senate. Republicans also took away an open seat in West Virginia that they hadn’t won since 1942.
Clinton’s latent tsunami of publicity makes no sense if she isn’t running for president
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
Among the least attractive characteristics of the Clintons (both she and he) is what may be charitably described as their chronic disingenuousness.
To wit, they resort to spin and subterfuge that’s too clever by half, even when the truth would do them no harm. The meaning of ‘is’ always seems to depend on what the meaning of ‘is’ is, at any given moment in time. Just like her Arkansas accent comes and goes.
Which brings us to Hillary’s recent magical mystery tour, replete with an orgy of copious, self-serving publicity that would make a Kardashian blush. The centerpiece of this effort has been her repeated insistence, that, by gosh, she just hasn’t decided yet if she’s going to run for president.
But of course she’s running for president. Would Bonnie and Clyde walk by a bank without at least attempting to rob it? Of course not.
If she’s not running for president, her recent behavior makes absolutely no sense.
She doesn’t need to make money by hawking a book. After all, she and Bill now have more dough than they or Chelsea could spend in five lifetimes, no matter how many houses (note the plural) they buy.
She certainly doesn’t need a book tour to bolster her celebrity. And it’s rather doubtful that she has any realistic ambition to win a Pulitzer prize with her weighty tome.
So that brings us to the inevitable conclusion that all of this is but a prelude to 2016.
The Ready for Hillary crowd might say, so what? Why should she telegraph her intentions now and become a target for the vast right-wing conspiracy? As Hillary might put it (with a hearty thump on the desk), at this point, what difference does it make?
Well, for one thing, her coy routine isn’t going to keep her from being fired upon by conservatives. They’ve never stopped. However, what it does do is remind many voters how allergic the Clintons are to candor.
So six months or a year from now, when Hillary finally admits that, well, by golly, she is going to run for president after all, many people will realize that, once again, they have been taken in by Clintonian double-speak.
Of course, that last statement presupposes that anyone in America actually believes that Hillary Clinton isn’t running for president. Perhaps that depends on what the meaning of ‘isn’t’ is.
Meanwhile, refusing to admit what voters already know just reminds them that, for the Clintons, the truth is always a movable feast.