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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Jimmy Carter [exact date unavailable], 1974. Interview A-0066. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Southern voting cohesion means that Democrats need southern candidates

The Democratic Party will have to start nominating southern candidates regularly because of the cohesiveness among southern politicians and voters.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Jimmy Carter [exact date unavailable], 1974. Interview A-0066. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Do you think that the Democratic party will revert to that trend, and will it be necessary to have, in effect, a southerner or border state person on the ticket?
JIMMY CARTER:
Yes, I think so.
JACK BASS:
You think that was a factor in that defection?
JIMMY CARTER:
I believe so. I do. I think that McGovern felt that he didn't have a chance in the world, you know, to carry a southern state. He made some . . . I guess he gave some thought to that in the selection of his first vice-presidential candidate, but I think it was primarily a matter of assuaging labor and the Catholic vote. But I don't think there was any feeling, you know, "I got to tie the southern voters to me." But I think that's a mistake that's been made for the last time. The South is a cohesive group, too. I guess you realize this, but we. . . . I know in the Georgia legislature, well, say in my election, I carried the south of Georgia. Some of those counties, ten to one. And now in legislative matters, if an issue is clearly defined, ninety per cent of the members of the general assembly of a certain region of say south Georgia will vote harmoniously, without having to compare notes with one another. The Atlanta region, which has twenty-three members of the legislature, they'll ordinarily divide twelve to eleven. So they in effect have one net vote, either in the governor's race or in a general assembly battle, whereas the southern part of the state, that is more rurally inclined, tend to vote the same way. And they have a much heavier preponderance of influence in a statewide race, and also in the legislature. Well, I think to some degree, this principle applies to the South. There's a cohesiveness down here that exists among the people that's fairly strong. And it's been shaken recently. . . .
WALTER DE VRIES:
You mean in relationship to people in the north, or candidates from the north, or. . . .?
JIMMY CARTER:
Just among ourselves. And I think that relationship has been re-cemented. We were shaken, obviously, by going through the ordeal of the racial question. And I think it was mirrored in the nationwide elections. But I think now that we've weathered that adequately. There's the closest possible relationship among the governors of the South, and this applies. . . .
WALTER DE VRIES:
I was going to ask about that. Is there more cohesiveness among southern governors than the national governors?
JIMMY CARTER:
I believe so.
WALTER DE VRIES:
I notice that when I attend those conferences too.
JIMMY CARTER:
But I frequently visit, either on the telephone or in person, you know, with David Hall and with Reuben Askew and with Edwards, with Bill Wallen, with John West. And with Dale Bumpers and others. Just as a matter, not only of friendship, but I feel we have a common purpose and a common region to develop. The organization recently of our Southern Growth Policy Board is a major indication of that effect. I've just been elected chairman of it, and in the next twelve months we'll be working just to say what are the goals of the South, in every aspect of life. And what can we do to bind our states closer together. How can we look to the future with a common purpose. How can we share experiences across state lines. I think this is a cohesiveness that I doubt is replicated in other parts of the nation, although I wouldn't say that definitively, not having investigated it thoroughly. But, you know, I think this again makes the South a much more important region politically.