Study Shows Southern Politics Is Changing

June 23, 2004 -- Posted 5:00 p.m. CDT

Jonesboro, AR -- Your granddaddy's politics is not the same as it used to be. That's the finding of study in the Southern Political Report.

The survey looked at the political beliefs and party activities of Democrats and Republicans in the 11 states of the old Confederacy in the last decade.

Among the findings: activists in the 2 parties are becoming ideologically polarized, with Republicans moving to the right, and Democrats to the left.

"There is actually more of an urban-rural split," said Arkansas State Political Science Professor Patrick Stewart.

"The Republican party right now is defined by its conservative core, it's social conservative core, the fiscal conservatives are splitting away, there is a rift in the party," said Stewart.

The study shows the issue of abortion for example has divided southern Republicans in the last decade. There are now fewer pro-choice voices.

As for Democrats, the study finds that some are still liberal on issues such as abortion , but have mixed feelings about school prayer and affirmative action.

"Democrats are actually realizing that they are Republicans, and they are moving over to the party and identifying that way," said Stewart.

In short the study finds that there are fewer people who call themselves moderates in the south.

"The shift started happening in the Clinton era when he was a fiscal conservative and socially he was moderate to liberal, where currently George W. Bush has claimed social conservatism to his core," said Stewart.