Let me say first that I think it's going to be a long time before we see some kind of Democratic return to power in Tennessee. While I agree with Bruce Barry that strange things are afoot in other Southern states, our situation is somewhat unique in that it seems we've never had a coherent Democratic party — just a series of strong, charismatic politicians who built and used their own apparatuses that worked. And obviously, this system worked — until it didn't. And now, Democrats in Tennessee are building a lot of things from scratch that they should have had in place a long time ago. So, Democrats in Tennessee are going to be in the wilderness awhile.
But Democrats in Texas are also in the wilderness. Democrats in North Carolina are in the wilderness.
And yet 600 people have been arrested in North Carolina for protesting cuts to unemployment benefits. North Carolina clergy and activists have been protesting every Monday since April. This Monday alone, 120 people were arrested. This is what the crowds look like:
Since Thursday, Texans have been swarming the state Capitol, basically doing a "people's filibuster" to try to block passage of legislation putting restrictions on abortion. Between 500 and 1,000 people have been there every day. This is what these crowds look like:
This, I believe, is the shift coming to Southern politics right now — long before the larger demographic shifts. If liberals cannot get their voices heard through political representation, they'll go make their voices heard through public protest. If I were a Tennessee Republican, I'd be contemplating how to deal with that coming change, long before I worried about having a viable Democratic opponent.