The many `Souths'. Divisions of race, culture, economics cloud traditional voting patterns
(Page 2 of 2)
Oklahoma and Missouri, two border Super Tuesday states, have only patches of Southernness. Maryland has counties of Southern character, but few people in them. Northern Virginia (suburban Washington) is more nearly Northeastern than Southern.Skip to next paragraph
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The South itself also has some significant pockets out of character.
In the mountains of east Tennessee, and spilling into surrounding states, the Republican Party has dominated politics since the Civil War. The yeoman farmers there owned few slaves and remained loyal to the union. Former Senate majority leader Howard Baker Jr., moderate and pragmatic, is a product of east Tennessee Republicanism.
South Louisiana is a more exotic corner of the South, where Cajuns lived isolated along the bayous until recent decades. Mostly Roman Catholic, unlike the strait-laced Protestants of northern Louisiana, the Cajuns have a free-wheeling, high-spirited reputation well maintained by Louisiana's controversial recent governor, Democrat Edwin Edwards.
The campaign schedules of the presidential candidates these days are scattering them like birdshot over the region.
The Republicans are favoring South Carolina heavily because its GOP primary March 5 is expected to help shape the field going into Super Tuesday, three days later.
Democrats seem to appear most frequently in Houston, Atlanta, and all over Florida.
Robert Dole's schedule for Wednesday this week illustrates the airborne nature of the Super Tuesday campaigns as he hops from one media market to the next.
Dole planned five 20-minute ``news availabilities'' in different cities. Except for one session at a downtown Sheraton Inn in Charleston, Dole's feet barely touched the ground. He made appearances at airports in Columbia, Florence, and Greenville, S.C., and in Charlotte, N.C.
Among the issues of the campaign, the candidates will find few regional hot-buttons, although the oil-patch states mildly favor an oil import fee, Carolina tobacco growers are concerned about their subsidies, and textile millworkers want protection from foreign competition.
Many Southern voters assess the times as does Michael Harrell, who works for a property-management company of Memphis. He sends his daughter to a private Christian Academy and spends his weekends floating amid $18,900 worth of bass fishing equipment - convinced the Republicans have been good for the economy.
The GOP may be the party of big business, says Mr. Harrell, a lifelong Democrat, ``but what's good for business is good for me. When the big dogs make money, I make money.''
Mary Wells, who owns Koretizing Cleaners in Rocky Mount, N.C., might mostly agree, but her conservative views are tempered by her experience as a working woman. ``I've seen a lot of changes since I've been in business, but let me tell you it's tougher being a woman in business here.''
A wide range of Southerners share the view of Powell Jenkins, who owns a hardware store across town. He would like to hear more credible talk from the candidates on the budget deficit. ``I know from my own experience that if you get in a bind like this country's in, you're going to have to do something dramatic to turn it around.''
Last in a series. Previous articles ran Feb. 23, 24, and 25.