Alabama sets voting patterns

Published 6:59 pm Wednesday, December 3, 2008

By Staff
Alabamians have established definite trends in our voting patterns. We have made a clear delineation between national and local races. We prefer Republicans for national office and Democrats locally. The state races are in between.
It is apparent that we are a very red state when it comes to presidential politics. Since 1964 we have voted for the GOP candidate for president ten out of twelve times. We only deviated in 1968 for our native son and Governor George Wallace as a third party candidate and only once for a Democrat when Georgia neighbor Jimmy Carter won the state narrowly in 1976. We voted overwhelmingly for Ronald Reagan in 1980 and we have not looked back. We have voted for the Republican nominee eight straight times, including this November's landslide vote for John McCain over Barack Obama.
Both of our U.S. Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions are Republicans. Sessions won reelection to this third six-year term last month. He was first elected in 1996. Shelby was first elected in 1986 as a Democrat but switched to the Republican column in 1990 and was subsequently reelected as a Republican in 1992, 1998 and 2004. He is finishing his 22nd year in the U.S. Senate. We currently have seven U.S. Congressmen and four of seven seats are held by Republicans.
In contrast, when it comes to local offices, the vast majority of positions are held by Democrats. These local Democrats tend to hide their party affiliation during the presidential years. They are generally voted on in non presidential years and run in the more popular gubernatorial year.
Therefore, the battleground is the Governor's race. It is a dead even contest and is anybody's to win. The Democrats and Republicans can count on about 35 percent each for the hardcore party vote in this marquee contest. The 30 percent in the middle make the choice and they basically vote for the person over the party.
This even contest rule applies to most of the secondary office races on the ballot in the Governor's race years. The offices of Lt. Governor, Treasurer, Secretary of State, Agriculture Commissioner and State Auditor are tossups when it comes to party. However, there is a distinct inherent preference for a female in the three administrative offices of Treasurer, Auditor and Secretary of State. Alabama voters tend to prefer a man for Agriculture Commissioner and it appears we tend to vote for a Republican for Attorney General.
This tendency to lean towards a Republican for tough law enforcement positions had transcended to our Court races. Alabama voters have clearly stated that they prefer Republicans wearing the judicial robes. We have 19 State Supreme Court and Appellate Court judgeships and all are elected statewide.
Steve Flowers is a political columnist who served 16
years in the State Legislature.
He may be contacted at

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