NPP #5: Southern Party-Switchers

As a part of a daily series called Non-Political Politics (NPP), Yusoof Monawvil posts daily maps on the obscure, quirky, and unconventional aspects of the United States’ key political institutions—in an undoubtedly non-political manner

Today’s NPP map takes a look at party-switching among Senators. party-switching-npp5

Blue: consistent party affiliation  |  Mid-purple: one Senator has switched party affiliation  |  Purple: both Senators have switched party affiliation

Unlike most NPP maps I make, this one shows some geographic correlation. It seems that the Deep South has a higher proportion of party-switching Senators than other regions of the United States.

At first glance, one might assume that these Senators were part of the old Yellow Dog Democrat brand but in reality, this only accounts for Mississippi’s Thad Cochran—a Southern Democrat who turned Republican amidst the nomination of Richard Nixon in 1968.

The other three Southern Senators—all former Democrats—switched parties much later than Nixon’s nomination and presidency.

  • John Neely Kennedy (LA): 2007
  • Bill Cassidy (LA): 2001
  • Richard Shelby (AL): 1994

As years went on, Southern Democratic Senators found that the increasingly progressive platform of the party hurt them in the polls. Far from being the remnants of an old Southern Democratic political machine, these Senators’ party switches were the results of political polarization and the slow disintegration of the Democratic big tent.


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Yusoof Monawvil is a Sri Lankan-American international student with a knack for history and politics. When not glued to his computer screen, he can often be found wandering through nature and exploring derelict urban sites.

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