When a party does badly in a couple of elections in a row and winds up losing a ton of seats, the natural consequence is to end up more concentrated in its regional base of support. The Republicans did poorly in 2006, did poorly in 2008, have done poorly in some special elections, and just suffered the defection of Senator Arlen Specter (Various-PA) so they’ve wound up concentrated in the South. That, in turn, may be a bit of a problem at least insofar as the party would like to put faces and ideas forward that play outside of its regional base.
But according to Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), there’s no problem here at all. Instead, what’s happened is that “forced unionization” in the North has caused freedom-loving voters to flee south, thus denuding the northern electorate of conservative votes. But soon enough things will turn around:
DeMint says he isn’t worried. He denied that the GOP has become a southern party, attributing Republican losses in the northeast to some northern voters who have left the region and moved south hoping to avoid labor unions and “forced unionization.” He said Americans will eventually come back into the Republican fold because of growing alarm about the size of government and President Obama’s fiscal policies.
There’s no denying that the population growth rate in the sunbelt has, in recent decades, exceeded the growth rate in the older, denser northeastern and rust belt portions of the country. But the idea that anything in American politics is explained by a net outflow of people from the non-southern portions of the country founders on the fact that no such net outflow of people is happening. The population of Pennsylvania is growing, as is the population of New York, the population of California, and the population of almost every state. To the best of my knowledge, the slowest population growth is occurring in the northern plains states — North Dakota has a marked shrinking trend — but these are “right to work” states with DeMintesque policies.