The first chapter presents the puzzle that is at the heart of the study. From the late 1950s to the present day, the South has undergone the most dramatic political transformation of any region in the country. As a result of that transformation, the Republican Party today largely dominates a region that was once solidly Democratic. Why did this transformation occur? Although scholars have suggested numerous explanations for the regionwide partisan shift, none adequately explains the state- or substate-level variation in Republican growth that epitomizes the South during this time period. Given the dramatic growth of Southern Republicanism and the dramatic increase in the size of the mobilized black electorate, we suggest that specific political opportunities played a decisive role in this partisan change—something we refer to as the theory of relative advantage.
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