Understanding Tennessee's Racial Realignment and Political Polarization: An Examination of Tennessee Gubernatorial Elections, 1932-2018.

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Arnold, Luke
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University Honors College Middle Tennessee State University
This thesis seeks to compare Tennessee Gubernatorial Elections to overall political trends to explain further how Tennessee is unique compared to the rest of the south regarding its racial realignment and political polarization. Chapter 1 examines the individual dynamics of Tennessee gubernatorial elections. Gubernatorial elections are non- federal state-wide races, which provides a precise measure of Tennessee’s political landscape. Chapter 2 looks at the evolving political atmosphere beyond gubernatorial elections to help highlight more overall shifts. Lastly, Chapter 3 provides an analysis of why politics in Tennessee is unique and explains the impacts. Tennessee avoided militarized control under the Reconstruction Act. Democrats continuously relied on black primary voters, and after Brown v. Board and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Democrats pivoted toward desegregation. As Republicans advanced, the Tennessee Democratic Party failed to change its strategy. Tennessee’s geography, racial toleration, and moderate desire make it unique in a landscape of southern states.
College of Liberal Arts, Tennessee, Elections, Politics, Gubernatorial, Race, Realignment, Polarization