I got curious and decided to take a look at how Mitt Romney did outside of the Confederacy in the 2012 presidential election. The Confederate States of America were Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Romney carried all these states except Florida and Virginia, winning 118 of their 160 Electoral College votes. Those 118 votes represented more than half of the 206 total votes that were awarded to Romney.

Another way of looking at this is that there are 538 total votes, so 420 votes are from outside of the historical Confederacy. Romney won 88 of them.

And I think we’re being a tad generous here. After all, there were border states with divided loyalties. Romney lost some of them, like Maryland and Delaware, but he also won several of them, like Missouri, Kentucky, and West Virginia. And, of course, the territories had complicated histories during the Civil War Era. Oklahoma wasn’t a state in the 1860’s, but its sympathies definitely lay with the South. If we eliminate the border states and the territories where slavery was a hot issue at the time of the Civil War, Romney’s Electoral votes plummet to virtually nothing.

We can, of course, argue about how to precisely define this, but I have Romney with 36 votes, coming from Indiana, the Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Alaska. If you want to give him Arizona, I suppose you can.

The point is, if a state had nothing to do with the Confederacy, its chances of supporting the Republican candidate were pretty small. Mostly, we’re talking about a few lightly-populated states in the West where there is no black population to speak of, Latinos don’t vote their weight, and Mormons have a lot of influence.

The more interesting thing is that Romney, like McCain before him, could not sweep the Confederate states. The next Republican candidate is more likely to lose North Carolina (not to mention Indiana) than he is to win anywhere outside of Romney’s base. The states closest to flipping blue are Georgia, Arizona, and Missouri (which was bluer than Michigan was red).

Of the states that Obama narrowly won, only Ohio was a Union state.

So, I think it’s pretty obvious from looking at these results that the Republican Party isn’t going to get any mileage out of tying their brand to the Confederacy. They need to break out of that culture and that mentality, and the states they need to win are not states that have any sympathy for Southern Honor.

The Democrats are chipping away at the Confederacy in any case, with Virginia and Florida going blue in the last two elections and North Carolina going blue in 2008. Georgia is on the cusp of turning blue and Mississippi could go that way, too, if a Democratic candidate could miraculously win more than 18% of the white vote there.

The conservatives can complain all they want about their culture being under assault but when the Dukes of Hazzard becomes taboo, you know that you’ve truly lost the war.

What’s really dangerous about this for the GOP is that their strength isn’t actually limited to the South or the former Confederacy. You can see this by looking at the House of Representatives or many state legislatures. But these non-southern Republicans are generally not into southern heritage or waving rebel flags. Go try that nonsense in Maine or New Hampshire and see how it goes over.

Democrats make inroads with these Republicans on women’s rights, secularism, and science. The more unrepentantly Old School-Southern the GOP seems, the more gettable these tax-averse suburban and exurban voters will be.

If you don’t believe me that this has the potential to do real harm to the GOP, maybe you’ll believe that corporate America’s reaction to the whole gay marriage and Confederate flag fiascos has been a canary in a coal mine. When the canary falls over dead it’s time to run.

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