According to Wikipedia, “In American politics, the Southern Strategy refers to a Republican Party electoral strategy to increase political support among white voters in the South by appealing to racism against African Americans.” I have really only encountered arguments for existence of this strategy in polemical contexts, and I am curious about the historical basis for the claim that there was such a strategy. The one source that is cited consistently is an infamous 1981 interview with Lee Atwater. This is not a lot to go on for evaluating the motivations of the Republican Party as a whole, or those of its more prominent members. (For instance one could construct an unflattering narrative about the Democratic Party on the basis of LBJ's racial attitudes or the fact that George Wallace was doing well in the 1972 Democratic primary until he got shot.) What is the evidence that the shift in Southern states' voting practices is the result of an intentional Republican appeal to racist attitudes?