White Democrats Disappear from the Deep South

John Barrow is fighting for his life. The Georgia representative is that most politically endangered of species, a white Democrat in the Deep South. When the state's Republicans redrew the district lines, they not only made his district more Republican, they also made sure his own home was outside his new district, just to stick it to him. Barrow was always conservative—National Journal rates him as the eighth-most conservative Democrat in the House—but in this election, he's got to really turn on the juice if he's going to survive. And what better way than with some belligerent paranoia on guns? After proudly showing off his father's and grandfather's guns (and snapping the bolt back and forth on the latter to provide the very sound of freedom), Barrow says in this ad, "I approved this message because these are my guns now. And ain't nobody gon' take 'em away." Well that's a relief.

There are a number of black Southern Democrats in Congress, representing districts that are substantially or majority black. But should Barrow lose, there will not be a single white Democrat left in Congress from the Deep South. Zero. Think about that for a moment.

In 2008, Barack Obama beat John McCain by 19 points in the Northeast, 17 points in the West, and 10 points in the Midwest. But McCain won the South by 9 points. This year, in a closer election, Mitt Romney will win the South by much more. Last week Gallup broke out their survey by region, and even though Gallup has been showing results more favorable to Romney than every other poll, it's the relative differences that are striking: they showed Obama winning the East and Midwest by 4 points and the West by 6, but losing the South by 22 points.

In 2008, Obama got the votes of only 10 percent of whites in Alabama and 11 percent in Mississippi. John Kerry did nearly as badly with white Southerners; this isn't just a story about race. But if Barrow falls, it may be a while before another white Democrat can win down in Dixie.

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