Smart read: Obama’s problems in the South — “the lingering Mason-Dixon political divide”


Jonathan Martin: Ever since his national debut at the 2004 Democratic convention, Barack Obama’s calling card has been that he practices consensus-oriented politics that transcend traditional divisions. But four years after his historic presidential election, the country he sought to bring together is even more divided than when he launched his candidacy. And no place is more polarized than the South. Any hope that the nation’s first black president would usher in a period of reconciliation in the old Confederacy has crashed on the rocks of a harsh reality: African-Americans overwhelmingly support him and whites make up much of the opposition. Far from being a transformational figure in the South, Obama has instead reinforced the region’s oldest and sturdiest divide. …

The South … is … at once the heart of the Obama resistance but also a region that is crucial to his reelection hopes. If he loses Florida, North Carolina and Virginia, it’s a virtual certainty that he’ll be a one-term president. Look for no further explanation as to why the Democratic convention is being held in Charlotte, the prototypical New South city …

So for political purposes, there are effectively two Souths now. There’s Virginia, North Carolina and Florida, which have become pivotal in presidential races, and there’s the Deep South, which is ignored by both White House candidates. … Democrats in the Deep South are in danger of now becoming the black party and Republicans effectively the white party. That has both Democrats and Republicans worried. … Hopeful Obama strategists once mused about competing in Georgia this year, but such talk has long since ended.



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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.