My wife Kate hails from Birmingham, Alabama, it’s in one of the only blue counties in the entire state. I still get on her about the bible-beating ways down there — Alabama and Mississippi provide a lot of fertile material for political blogging.
That said, there are living, breathing progressives there — I know quite a few, and Alabama has a plentiful population of LGBTs — forging out a path in a sometimes outwardly hostile environment. You have to remember that not everyone wants to live in deep Blue areas of the country. There’s nothing wrong with the South — I hail from the mid-Atlantic South — North Carolina, which is markedly less conservative, but shares quite a bit of the Southern culture (and remember “southern culture” is more than “white southern culture” people). North Carolina has progressed in politically dramatically different fashion compared to deep South states when it comes to batsh*t conservatism. Now I’ll give you that NC’s GOP is retrograde, full of good old boy bigots, but the general assembly’s composition is tempered somewhat by the Dems living in the 21 century.
My friend Rep. Patricia Todd (D), the only out member of the Alabama state legislature, has managed to carve out a successful, groundbreaking career there, breaking down barriers in a state that has a long way to go. We need to remember and support folks doing the tough sledding in Red states.
NC’s the home of the very successful — and accurate when it comes to gauging the South — polling outlets, Public Policy Polling took a peek at some cultural political attitudes in Alabama and Mississippi — those states hold their primaries tomorrow, and it is a real eye-opener. This is mindset of the average GOP primary voter — it’s a frightening trip in the DeLorean:
- There’s considerable skepticism about Barack Obama’s religion with Republican voters in them. In Mississippi only 12% of voters think Obama’s a Christian to 52% who think he’s a Muslim and 36% who are not sure. In Alabama just 14% think Obama’s a Christian to 45% who think he’s a Muslim and 41% who aren’t sure.Mitt Romney dominates the ‘Obama’s a Christian’ vote in both states. He leads Santorum 42-28 with those folks in Mississippi and has a 38-21 lead over him with them in Alabama. In Mississippi Newt’s winning the ‘Obama’s a Muslim’ vote 39-28, but in Alabama it’s a three way tie with all of the leading candidates at 31%.
- Alabama’s pretty much on board with interracial marriage, with 67% of voters thinking it should be legal to 21% who think it should not be. There’s still some skepticism in Mississippi though- only 54% of voters think it should be legal, while 29% believe it should be illegal. Newt cleans up with the ‘interracial marriage should be illegal’ crowd in both states. He’s up 40-27 on Romney with them in Mississippi and 37-28 with them in Alabama.
- Finally there’s considerable skepticism about evolution among GOP voters in both Alabama and Mississippi. In Alabama only 26% of voters believe in it, while 60% do not. In Mississippi just 22% believe in it, while 66% do not. Romney wins the ‘voters who believe in evolution’ vote (33-27 over Gingrich in Alabama, 38-32 over Gingrich in Mississippi.) Santorum wins the ‘voters who don’t believe in evolution’ vote (34-33 over Gingrich in both Alabama and Mississippi with Romney at 26%)
I don’t know what century these GOP folks live in, or what direction they believe the country should be moving culturally. Do they really think their political views will prevail? If not, how do they cope with living in 21st century America, where the population is getting browner, the LGBTs are increasingly out of the closet, and women and men are having non-procreative sex?