'Solid South' No Longer Just All-red Or All-blue
Nationally, Bredesen said, Democrats lost their connection with many small-town and rural whites because of a confluence of issues beyond race: Vietnam War protests, gun control, abortion, Supreme Court appointments, gay marriage. "I think the extent to which the national party has made a crusade out of some of these issues has driven people away," he said. To connect with distinct urban, suburban and rural populations, Bredesen said, parties must "appreciate the whole diversity of experiences Americans have in this country."
Barbour said Republicans should win over the growing nonwhite population based on policy. "The change in the South has been evolutionary, and I expect it to continue," he said. "But people in demographic groups evolve, too. Besides African-Americans, who are pretty firm (for Democrats), most other groups ebb and flow."