Political Changes in the South: Black Majorities, White Minorities and the Fundamentalists

Political Changes in the South: Black Majorities, White Minorities and the Fundamentalists

In Louisiana this past year, two seemingly disparate political events took place: the election of Sidney Barthelemy, a black Democrat, as mayor of New Orleans; and the endorsement of the Reverend Marion G. (Pat) Robertson’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination by televangelist Jimmy Swaggart. In fact, both developments represent embryonic trends within the Democratic and Republican parties that are likely to intensify conflict within the GOP coalition and to ameliorate some of the tensions within the Democratic coalition.

The election of Barthelemy in New Orleans was significant because it reflects the revival of the importance of white voters in majority black communities. In first a primary and then a run-off, Barthelemy defeated credible white and black opponents. White voters supported Barthelemy by large margins, after deciding against throwing their votes away on a white candidate sure to lose a run-off against a black.

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