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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Nancy Palm, December 16, 1974. Interview A-0194. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Texas as a conservative southern state

Palm hypothesizes about the likelihood of Texans supporting a Ford-Rockefeller ticket in the 1976 presidential election. According to Palm, Texans would be more likely to align themselves with someone such as Ronald Reagan, who she believes was more in tune with "southern thought." As Palm describes it, Texas was both a southern state and a conservative state, and as a result, Texans were increasingly oriented towards conservative politics that emphasized a limited form of government. Her comments here reveal the way in which political party alignments and dynamics were changing in Texas during this transitional moment.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Nancy Palm, December 16, 1974. Interview A-0194. 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

Incumbency carries an awful lot of weight with it. Let's face it. He brings a tremendous amount of contracts into the state of Texas and an awful lot of jobs. Particularly with him being on the Armed Services Committee. And the aerospace industry, as it is in Texas, is very beholding to Tower. I don't think Tower will have a terrible problem getting re-elected. I do think that he's going to be surprised that a Ford-Rockefeller ticket won't carry the state of Texas. And it won't.
Why not?
There will not be a sufficient difference, philosophically, between it and the Democrat ticket. And the majority of people in the state of Texas are either Democrats or independents. They will go with the Democrat nominee. Remember, we had not carried the state of Texas for a presidential candidate since Eisenhower and then this last time, '72, for Nixon. And that was with a massive, massive amount of money spent here. I do not see how a Rockefeller-Ford ticket can carry Texas.
What kind of a ticket would carry it?
Probably something like a Reagan-Brock, or some new face that's willing to take a position that is more in line with southern thought. But again, Texas is not just totally a southern state. It is a conservative state. This is one of the real - and I hate to use the word - tragedies of this redistricting that Ben Barnes foisted upon the state. Ben Barnes and Barbara Jordon. They thought they still had an establishment which we call the old conservative Democrat party. And it did not exist. And this redistricting has thrown the state legislature into the hands of the liberals. It has accelerated the split between liberal and conservative thinking. And people do not look at Gerald Ford or Nelson Rockefeller as a conservative. If, by conservative, you mean a limited form of government.
What is the difference between a Democratic liberal and conservative in Texas. We can't find another group in any other southern state like the Texas liberal. That has a recognized group of so-called liberals.
Probably the reason for that is that you do not find any other southern state where there are the large number of organized labor that are well supported by labor unions. This whole gulf coast area is very solidly union. So that's it's been even more remarkable that we have carried Harris county where there is a built in union vote against us. And a built in minority vote of approximately 40 percent against us. You have what, a 1.2 million Mexican-Americans here plus a very large black population in the state of Texas. And they tend to be more liberal. Plus the fact that you've got a strong base of organized labor. So I would think that that's the reason that Texas has a split in their Democrat party between liberal and conservative.
But by liberal and conservative you mean the use to which government is put. More government vs less government.
Yes. I think that's more taxes vs less taxes, more government control vs less government control.