Chris Kromm, executive director of the Institute for Southern Studies in North Carolina, is an astute watcher of politics in our part of the world. Here's what he wrote recently about the aftermath of the midterm elections:
"When Southern legislatures gavel into session in 2019, Republicans will still enjoy majority control in all of the South's upper and lower chambers. But for Southern Republicans, there is cause for concern: Since the election of President Trump, Democrats have gained ground in key Southern states.
"A Facing South/Institute for Southern Studies analysis finds that since spring 2017, in a series of regular and special elections, Democrats have added a net total of 67 legislative seats in the South, with a small handful of positions yet to be filled."
Granted, Democrat Stacey Abrams lost her bid for governor in Georgia, and Democrat Andrew Gillum didn't win the gubernatorial race in Florida. But those two high-profile results don't alter the statistics from Kromm's analysis.
"Since Trump's election, Democrats have accelerated their gains in key Southern states. Since early 2017, Democrats have registered net gains in 15 Southern legislative chambers, including double-digit increases in their share of house members in Georgia (which added 12 Democrats in 2018), Texas (+11 for Democrats), and Virginia (Democrats picked up 15 seats in 2017). In North Carolina, Democrats gained six seats in the N.C. Senate and nine in the House in 2018, breaking a Republican supermajority in both chambers and the GOP's ability to override vetoes from the state's Democratic governor.
"The Democrats' gains in Southern state legislatures have been most pronounced in the region's "purple" battleground states, or where Democrats in 2018 competed in other high-profile races that mobilized party voters, as in Florida, Georgia and Texas. The Deep South states of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi have actually seen a small decline in Democratic legislators during the Trump era, while the Appalachian states of Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia witnessed modest Democratic gains."
Not doubt, most regions of the South remain solidly Republican. That's certainly the case in almost all of Alabama. But two-party politics are returning in some areas of the South, and that matters.
-- Phillip Tutor