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December 10, 2019, 02:30:57 am
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  Presidential Election Trends (Moderator: Virginia)
  Are the Southwest and Appalachia always politically opposed?
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Author Topic: Are the Southwest and Appalachia always politically opposed?  (Read 506 times)
mianfei
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« on: November 02, 2019, 08:22:11 am »

In recent years, one question that has attracted me is whether the Southwest and Appalachia are inherently opposed to one another and always move politically in opposite directions – like New England and the Deep South were said to do between the Civil War and the Bill Clinton Era.

It has always struck me that:

  • Alf Landon, a moderate Appalachia/Ozark mountain Republican, in 1936 did terribly badly in southwestern states like California
  • Barry Goldwater, a southwestern radical free-market Republican, was demolished like no other Republican in most of Appalachia
  • Jimmy Carter, from the Georgia upcountry (secessionist edge of the Appalachian Regional Commission) was decimated in the Southwest because he did not understand their problems with water
  • in recent elections, the Democrats have cemented their grip on California, which is not one of their strongest states, as the two most “Appalachian” states, Kentucky and West Virginia, that leaned Democratic in Carter’s elections become two of the most Republican in the nation

As I analyse US election history, I detect a pattern in all of this – that relative gains in the Southwest and Southern California (and perhaps some adjacent areas) always seem to correlate with relative losses in the Appalachian region.

I can see several reason why there might be an inherent opposition between the two regions. One is the contrast between the “big is beautiful” large-scale urban and water development of the Southwest with the small counties and historic “plain white” communities historically associated with Appalachia. Another is that whilst the Southwest has over the past century been on the American frontier and exposed to outside influences more than any other region, Appalachia has been more insulated from such than any other region of the nation.
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Epaminondas
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« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2019, 08:49:35 am »

Before an attempt at interpretation, you could make your case stronger by providing numbers.
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Orser67
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« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2019, 05:23:29 pm »

Interesting idea overall, but associating Landon and Carter with Appalachia seems like a stretch.
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Old School Republican
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« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2019, 12:06:05 am »

Not really during the core of the New Deal Era(1932-1968) . Also not really in the Bush years either.
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Wazza
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« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2019, 08:34:26 am »

The "Southwest" and "Appalachia" are politically diverse areas and shouldn't be treated as monoliths...
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Southern Senator North Carolina Yankee
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« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2019, 12:29:13 pm »

As was pointed out, both were integral parts of the New Deal Coalition because of mining and farming. Both also had animosity to the NE Business elite, and Democratic rhetoric at the time often pointed to a new colonial dynamic with which the same elite regarded the South and west.

If they diverged it was because half of Iowa moved to Socal and large populations from the rest of the Midwest moved into California and Arizona after World War II. Colorado already was voting with Iowa and the Plains (see 1940).

The shift of the Mormon Church towards the Republicans in the mid 20th century also had an impact.

Likewise in the modern era you have 1. a Religious realignment in the 1990's and 2. a racial realignment of sorts in the late 2000s and 2010s and thus the SW is Democratic and getting more so, while the Appalachian areas have become Republican and solidly so.
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