Democrats are hoping Dixie isn't so solid anymore for Republicans, and Barack Obama sees Southern states as possible November battlegrounds. As USA Today reports
Democrats haven't carried a Southern state since Arkansas' Bill Clinton topped the ticket. This time, the Obama campaign says it will target Virginia, North Carolina and perhaps other states in the region. Obama's ability to energize black voters and appeal to college-educated whites has made both states more feasible for him than they probably would be for Clinton.
"It'll be a tough race in North Carolina, but I think we have a real shot at it," says former North Carolina senator John Edwards, who sought the presidential nomination this year and has endorsed Obama.
Obama would "attract a group of voters who have not been voting … and I think the enthusiasm in the African-American community has been and will continue to be extraordinary," Edwards says.
In Tennessee, we like to think of ourselves as New South progressive. We tend to like our Republicans moderate (Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker), and we almost promoted a black congressman (Harold Ford Jr.) to the Senate in 2006. So why isn't Tennessee on the list of swing states?
At least in part, Obama has our state's Democrats to thank. They failed to recruit a strong candidate to challenge Alexander this year. Gov. Bredesen even did Republicans a favor by discouraging Mike McWherter from running. That left only an underfunded weakling—either Bob Tuke or Mike Padgett—without a snowball's chance. Without a popular Democrat running down the ballot, Obama can't challenge McCain here.