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?

  • What are you suggesting with your mention of George Wallace and the attempt on his life? – F1Krazy Nov 26 at 21:40
  • @F1Krazy George Wallace was a prominent segregationist, so if one wanted to tar the Democratic Party with an allegation of racism, one could use his success as a Democratic candidate to do so. – adam.baker Nov 26 at 21:55
  • Ah, so he was. I somehow completely misread the opening section of the article. – F1Krazy Nov 26 at 22:13
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    Have you attempted to do any independent research into this? You imply that there is only one source to support the existence of a Southern Strategy, and that it is hard to find any others. This is simply not true. – John Nov 26 at 23:23
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    Yeah, I read the article, but what I saw was people attributing motives (or more commonly, constructing a narrative straight from the electoral outcomes), rather than citing documentary evidence that sheds light on the motives of the actors. So I'm looking for evidence rather than mere assertion. – adam.baker Nov 26 at 23:27

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