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House and Senate districts did differ in potentially important ways. To begin with, the individual Southern states comprised as few as 6 and as many as 22 congressional districts in the 1950s, as few as 4 and as many as 30 by the 1990s. This meant that House districts were inevitably more homogeneous than any single state could be. Seen the other way around, however, the more important consequence is that Senate districts, being a blend of their House components, varied less among themselves—among the states—than did these component parts.

A one-party South had, by definition, repressed the main cleavage, social class, which had defined the non-Southern—the New Deal—party system elsewhere, with a blue-collar Democracy facing a white-collar GOP. Its restoration, bringing the South back into the partisan union at long last, would finally make that party system fully national. Beginning with the politics of class does, in turn, imply beginning with a focus on the white South. During the 1950s, there was some natural increase in the share of the Southern electorate contributed by black Southerners, the key trigger for a reorganization in the politics of race.

On the other hand, by comparison to the situation in the House or the Senate, these gains remained potential rather than reliable. John Kennedy managed to knock the first surge back in 1960. Jimmy Carter took the line of further progress back nearly to zero as late as 1976. But by 1992, even a national nominee who was a certified Southern Democrat, Bill Clinton of Arkansas, could not resurrect a presidential majority in his home region. In other words, what was still hopeless at the time V. O. Key went to press was incipiently in existence by the next succeeding election; moved into majority territory only a generation later; and could not be dislodged by even a highly successful native son a generation after that.

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An Overview of the War on Terror by Marrs

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