Now that my pampered first world lifestyle is no longer dependent on the backup generators next door, I find myself thinking about one of my (many) favorite subjects: Southern politics. I seem to remember a meme taking hold in the fallout from the 2008 election to the effect that the GOP would forever be relegated to the status of the regional party of the South. This is of course demonstrably false, but I have to wonder what will happen to this stronghold of Republican support in the near future. It would be interesting to speculate on what the South's place within the Republican coalition as the political climate shifts.
As I look across today's political landscape, I can't help but notice that of the major figures within the party today, fewer than one might expect come from the South. When I look at Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, Scott Walker and Sarah Palin, it occurs to me that the axis of Republican politics may be shifting away from the South. I will leave it to you to figure whether Ron Paul and Rick Perry should be included in the South; I have known Texans to be somewhat touchy on the question as to whether they are Southern or Western. Even as a Virginian, I have difficulty including my Governor, who, despite policy successes, has not attained the "name - rec" status of some Northern Republicans.
Anyhow, none of us can see far ahead into the future, so it would be grandiose to proclaim the coming geographic realignment of the Republican Party base. I just think it should be pointed out that, save Eric Cantor and Jim DeMint--important figures to be sure--there aren't as many Southern leaders in the GOP coalition as there once were. Granted, there have been important non-Southerners in the GOP since Southern realignment--Bob Dole, Dennis Hastert, and Henry Hyde--but the GOP's association with the South has become almost unshakeable. Can anyone think of any other dynamic Southerners in the GOP? Let me know of any obvious omissions. And, more importantly, has populist conservatism become such a fixture of the national political landscape, for the moment at least, that Southern identity is less important? (I would also like to point out that for the sake of a common frame of reference, I am using the so-called "11 state South" definition)