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The politics of the South: Hunting for votes

LAST month Barack Obama, following his approval ratings, headed south. He took a three-day bus tour through Virginia and North Carolina, both of which he had won in 2008, reversing a decades-long erosion of Democratic support in the South. He met soldiers, students and teachers. Virginia’s Democratic politicians, however, stayed away. Tim Kaine, a former governor now running for the Senate, pleaded a full schedule elsewhere. Others were less kind. Phillip Puckett, a Democratic state senator, declared, “I don’t plan to support President Obama for re-election.” Churlish, perhaps, but it worked: on Tuesday Mr Puckett won his own re-election battle.Elections this week across three southern states produced oddly mixed results. The Republicans’ steady march through the state capitols and governor’s mansions of Dixie continued in Mississippi, where they appear to have captured the state’s House of Representatives from the Democrats for the first time since the aftermath of the civil war. Their candidate for governor, Phil Bryant, trounced Democrat Johnny DuPree (although voters spurned a proposal backed by both men, to…

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