Republicans shocked the political world Tuesday,pulling off multiple gubernatorial race victories in the South many would not have thought possible,but some political analysts say a Republican-led South has been a long time coming.
Since the late 1960s,more and more businesses have been moving south,creating increasingly Republican suburbs,said Dr. Kenneth Wald,political science professor at the University of Florida.
“I think you really have to see this as a long-term historical event,” he said. “Many people are wondering why this happened,but it's just that it's taken two or three decades for (this shift) to work itself out.”
And one of the best examples of this shift can be seen in Georgia.
In one of the election's biggest upsets,Republican Sonny Perdue defeated incumbent Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes (D),who was thought to achieve a second-term win without difficulty.
Perdue will be Georgia's first GOP governor in 130 years.
Some analysts said they attribute Perdue's win to his ability to eliminate the gender gap among white voters.
“It's harder for a Republican to win more support among white,middle-class women,” said Dr. Charles Bullock,the Richard B. Russell political science professor at the University of Georgia. “They often get turned off by issues such as abortion and welfare.”
But Perdue never focused on these issues in his platform,which is why he was successful,Bullock said.
Republicans also looked for outside help as well.
Sweeping six of the nine governorships in the Southern states,Republicans said they owe much of their success to President Bush,who made many pre-election appearances at political rallies to help support candidates.
“I give a tremendous amount of credit to President Bush (for these wins),” said Katon Dawson,chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party. “It's all George Bush.”
The GOP raised support for its party during South Carolina's primary elections in June,Katon said. Although the primaries drained party funds,they were successful in putting forth the Republican message.
“I think Democrats are reflecting with regret on the fact that they didn't have as big of a primary to get their message across,” he said.
Rep. Mark Sanford (R) gained access to the South Carolina state house Tuesday,defeating Gov. Jim Hodges (D) by winning 53 percent of the vote.
But Democrats are not being swept away by the hype.
In Georgia,incumbent Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor (D) defeated GOP candidate Steve Stancil by 6 percent of the vote. And Secretary of State incumbent,Cathy Cox (D),beat out Charles Bailey,Sr. (R) by 5 percent.
“The Democratic incumbents just after the Senate and governor races did pretty well,” said Beth Schapiro,president of Schapiro Research Group,Inc.,a Democratic polling firm in Atlanta. “There were some pretty impressive margins regardless of what was happening on the top of the ticket.”
And some said redistricting had much to do with Tuesday's outcome in the South.
Wald,a registered Democrat in Alachua County,Fla.,said his county was carved up “like a Christmas turkey.”
“It got divided up into four Congressional districts,” he said. “Had redistricting not occurred,we (Democrats) would've easily won.”