New Deal coalition

From Academic Kids

The New Deal coalition was a diverse collection of groups of voters who supported the United States Democratic Party from 1932 until approximately 1964, and which made the Democratic Party the majority party during that time.

The 1932 election brought about a major realignment in political party affiliation, and is widely considered to be a realigning election. Franklin D. Roosevelt was able to forge a coalition of labor unions, liberals, African Americans, and southern whites. These disparate voting blocs together formed a majority of voters and handed the Democratic Party seven victories out of nine presidential elections, as well as control of both houses of Congress during much of this time.

In many ways, it was the civil rights movement that ultimately heralded the demise of the coalition. Democrats had traditionally solid support in southern states (the "Solid South"), but this electoral dominance began eroding in 1960, when Richard Nixon became the first Republican presidential candidate to win electoral votes in the region despite losing nationwide. In the 1964 election, many southern voters threw their support to Republican candidate Barry Goldwater, who had opposed civil rights legislation. Goldwater won almost all of his electoral votes in the five southern states he carried. In the 1968 election, the south once again abandoned its traditional support for the Democrats by supporting Nixon and segregationist third-party candidate George C. Wallace. These events, coupled with Nixon's southern strategy aimed at attracting these voters, ultimately led to increased support for Republicans by southern whites. Since 1968, the south has generally voted for Republicans in presidential elections. Exceptions came in the elections of 1976, when the southern states voted for native southerner Jimmy Carter, and 1992 and 1996, when the Democratic ticket of two southerners (Bill Clinton and Al Gore) achieved a split of the region's electoral votes.

In more recent years, support for the Democrats has become the strongest in the northeast and on the west coast, with Republicans showing more strength in the rest of the country. The division between the two parties is virtually even in both houses of Congress, as of 2002, and no party has established the kind of dominance that the Democrats were able to exert during the period of the New Deal coalition.

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