As new Members take the oath of office in January 2013, something unprecedented may occur: Not a single white Democrat from the Deep South could be a Member of the 113th Congress. Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina already have just a single Democratic Representative in Congress. Each of those Democrats is African-American and represents majority-black districts.
It’s a trend that may extend to a fifth state in the Deep South. Georgia’s Republican-written Congressional redistricting map, which became law earlier this year and was approved by the Department of Justice just before Christmas, undermines the current Democratic bent of Rep. John Barrow’s district. He’s the Peach State’s one white Democratic Member. The new map is likely to leave Georgia’s delegation with only four Democrats — representing the state’s four majority-black districts.
Of course no political trend lasts forever, but for the time being, a Barrow loss would conclude a decades-long process that has slowly, in fits and spurts, eliminated conservative white Democrats from the South.
It’s a trend that has been hastened, some Democrats say, by the decennial redistricting process controlled almost exclusively by GOP-held legislatures in the South. Some outspoken Democrats allege that GOP statehouses have used the 1965 Voting Rights Act to speed up this trend by drawing Democratic African-American voters into “black-max” districts, while leaving Republican districts comfortably GOP-leaning.