In the Washington Post, there's a story about the shifting political demographics in the South which contains this interesting tidbit:
The nation’s first black president finished more strongly in the region than any other Democratic nominee in three decades, underscoring a fresh challenge for Republicans who rely on Southern whites as their base of national support.
Obama won Virginia and Florida and narrowly missed victory in North Carolina. But he also polled as well in Georgia as any Democrat since Jimmy Carter, grabbed 44 percent of the vote in deep-red South Carolina and just under that in Mississippi — despite doing no substantive campaigning in any of those states.
What I find especially worth chewing over is the reason Obama did so well. Contrary to the kind of analysis we've heard up until now, Obama did well in the Southern coastal states among whites. Unlike, say, Mississippi (or, to a lesser extent, Tennessee), where someone's skin color was a pretty accurate predictor of which party they voted for, coastal states saw whites voting Democratic.
One reason is that North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia (ignoring Florida for a second, because they've always had transplants) have been actively recruiting people to move to their states and, hopefully, bring with them jobs for the locals.
Luring jobs and the transplants that come with those jobs has been high on Gov. Haslam's political agenda, though our situation is a little different because we don't have a functional state Democratic party at the moment. So I don't see this trend suggesting that Tennessee Democrats have a shorter time in the wilderness than they might have previously anticipated.
But I do think it will be interesting to see if the Republicans attempt to moderate themselves in order to appeal to the changing demographics or not.
If not, I think we may see some Democratic surprises every now and again — individuals who just build their own apparatus without relying on the party's, and who win under the power of their own tiny machines. Or we'll see a growing trend of sitting Republicans being primaried, probably from both the Tea Partiers and the middle-of-the-roaders.