WMU News

The say of the South

Sept. 5, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- To Southern voters, both Al Gore, who hails from Tennessee, and Bush, a Texan, are native sons and that fact could have a dramatic impact on the results of the election, according to Dr. John A. Clark, associate professor of political science at Western Michigan University.

An expert in Southern politics and elections, Clark says that Southern blood is typically "more significant for the Democrats than the Republicans."

"It's difficult for a non-Southern Democrat to win the White House, but having two Southerners vying for the presidency could neutralize the extra 'oomph' Al Gore would have had as a Southern Democratic candidate," he says.

As a result, the South could become a political battlefield during the campaign. "If the South is in play, if Gore is competitive there, then it would force George W. Bush to spend a lot of energy campaigning in the South and divert his attention away from other areas of the country," Clark says. "If Gore doesn't have a stronghold in the South, however, then it's all over."

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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