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Interview with Charles Bullock, December 19, 2017

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:51 - Introduction to southern politics

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Partial Transcript: I was wondering if we could begin by talking about your childhood, your upbringing, education, how you became you.

Segment Synopsis: Bullock describes his early life, becoming interested in southern politics by receiving a copy of V.O. Key's book Southern Politics. He details the path that brought him to studying and teaching the subject as a professor at the University of Georgia.

Keywords: Congressional committee assignments; Emory University School of Law; Southern Political Science Association; Thomas R. Dye; Tucker, Georgia; Washington University; William Jewell College; black electorate; doctoral dissertation; redistricting; two-party competition

00:07:54 - Partisan realignment of the south

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Partial Transcript: Can you answer the question "Is southern politics exceptional?"

Segment Synopsis: Bullock summarizes how in a relatively short time, southern politics shifted from being dominated by Democrats in single-party style to Republican successes in two-party systems. However, he also notes that history seems to be repeating itself, only with Democrats back on the rise, particularly in the southeastern states.

Keywords: "mountain Republicans"; 1952 presidential election; 1956 presidential election; 1964 presidential election; 1973 Atlanta mayoral race; 1976 presidential election; Atlanta suburbs; Barry Goldwater; Cherokee County, Georgia; Cobb County, Georgia; DeKalb County, Georgia; Deep South; Dwight D. Eisenhower; Forsyth County, Georgia; George Hooks; Gwinnett County, Georgia; Hispanic voters; Jimmy Carter; John Barrow; Marco Rubio; Maynard Jackson; Rim South; Rockdale County, Georgia; Walton County, Georgia; economic development; political realignment; population replacement; redistricting; urban areas; urbanization; voter mobilization

00:18:17 - Demographic voting patterns

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Partial Transcript: So, we've already sort of touched on this, but how would you break down the major components of the Georgia electorate?

Segment Synopsis: Bullock states that because of the strong partisan voting patterns of blacks toward Democrats and white men toward Republicans, the main demographic both parties are trying to win over are white women. He doubts that the Asian and Hispanic electorates are large enough to be a major consideration for either party at this point in time.

Keywords: 2011 redistricting plan; Dalton, Georgia; Doug Jones; Gainesville, Georgia; Roy Moore; evangelical whites; metro Atlanta; partisan affiliations

00:23:39 - Party organization / redistricting

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Partial Transcript: Party organizations in Georgia.

Segment Synopsis: Bullock explains that the Democratic Party of Georgia did not have much party organization because the one-party system in the state made organization unnecessary; meanwhile, Republicans built themselves up through strong organization. Bullock also notes how redistricting and the switch from the county unit system to population-based districts further weakened Democratic strength in Georgia.

Keywords: Columbus, Georgia; DeKalb County, Georgia; Ellis Arnall; Eugene Talmadge; Fulton County, Georgia; Jimmy Carmichael; Roy Harris; anti-Talmadge faction; at-large voting; bifactionalism; grassroots organization; in-migration; rural areas; single-member districts; suburban areas

00:29:25 - Impact of the Voting Rights Act

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Partial Transcript: Right around this time--1965, as you mentioned--is the Voting Rights Act.

Segment Synopsis: Bullock details the impact the Voting Rights Act of 1965 had on the political clout of black voters in Georgia, primarily through increasing the election of black officeholders. He then talks about how the fledgling Republican minority in the legislature cooperated with the Legislative Black Caucus to draw district maps that were favorable to both sides.

Keywords: Busbee v. Smith; Miller v. Johnson; Cynthia McKinney; J. Roy Rowland; John Dunn; John Lewis; Leroy Johnson; MAXBLACK; McIntosh County, Georgia; Meriwether County, Georgia; Michael Thurmond; Nathan Deal; Newt Gingrich; Pat Swindall; Sanford Bishop; Saxby Chambliss; Section 5; United States Department of Justice; majority-black districts; nonretrogression; party switching; preclearance

00:42:47 - Shaw v. Reno and Larios v. Cox

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Partial Transcript: How did the Democrats--actually, Miller v. Johnson, you referenced.

Segment Synopsis: Bullock explains the Supreme Court's decision in Shaw v. Reno and how the court's decision factored into the litigation of Miller v. Johnson. He then elaborates on the 2001 redistricting directed by Governor Roy Barnes to maximize Democratic control, which was overturned by the Supreme Court in the Larios v. Cox case.

Keywords: "I-85 district"; "discriminatory effect"; Congressional reapportionment; Sandra Day O'Connor; Section 2; Section 5; Supreme Court of the United States; United States Department of Justice; Voting Rights Act; equal protections case; multi-member districts

00:51:23 - Aftermath of Larios v. Cox

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Partial Transcript: And this is right around the time that the Republicans have the Governor's Mansion and the state senate.

Segment Synopsis: Bullock talks about the aftermath of Larios v. Cox, in which the district maps for the state legislature in 2004 had to be drawn by the courts due to the inability of Republican Senate and Democrat House to agree on a set of maps. He explains that the court-drawn maps were initially unfavorable to both parties because they threatened incumbents, but the second set that were used in the 2004 ultimately led to Republicans winning a majority in the Georgia House of Representatives.

Keywords: 2011 redistricting; Shelby County v. Holder; Buddy Darden; Legislative Black Caucus; Roger Kahn; minority voters

00:58:17 - Current redistricting issues

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Partial Transcript: There are a couple of Supreme Court cases up right now.

Segment Synopsis: Bullock analyzes the issues in the main redistricting cases pending before the Supreme Court at the time of the interview [December 2017], Cooper v. Harris and Gill v. Whitford. He observes that while the former may have some success, concerning racial composition in drawing minority districts, the latter concerns partisan gerrymandering, which has not been successfully litigated since it was deemed a justiciable issue.

Keywords: "cracking"; "packing"; "stacking"; 2006 renewal of the Voting Rights Act; Georgia v. Ashcroft; First Amendment; minority groups

01:06:30 - Evangelical voters

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Partial Transcript: But we've been talking about redistricting and race a lot, but to go back to something we started to talk about earlier, evangelicals.

Segment Synopsis: Bullock talks about how evangelical Christians came to strongly align themselves with the Republican Party, despite many socially conservative Democrats running in Georgia. Bullock elaborates that the Christian Coalition's tactics of publishing "score cards" on legislators' voting patterns and "voter's guides" that listed candidates' positions probably had little impact on incumbents, but likely swung races for open seats towards Republicans.

Keywords: Equal Rights Amendment; Jerry Falwell; Joe Frank Harris; Johnny Isakson; Mike Egan; Paul Coverdell; Skin Edge; abortion; same-sex marriage; separation of church and state

01:12:19 - "Night-and-day coalition"

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Partial Transcript: Why were Democrats able to hold on to power in Georgia--that rural Georgia--the coalition.

Segment Synopsis: Bullock explains that the Democratic Party maintained control in Georgia by forging a coalition between black voters and conservative, rural white voters, predicated on avoiding discussion of racial issues. He then notes that while both parties wish to attract outside investment into Georgia, Democrats did so through public spending projects that businesses may utilize while Republicans wish to attract businesses through low taxation.

Keywords: 1991 redistricting; Bob Irvin; Chuck Clay; Georgia World Congress Center; Skin Edge; Tom Murphy; Voting Rights Act; education; infrastructure; textile mills; welfare reform

01:18:47 - Divisions within the parties

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Partial Transcript: What about divisions within the parties?

Segment Synopsis: Bullock states that the divisions in the Democratic Party of Georgia are not ideological but rather racial in nature, and that to achieve widespread electoral victories, Democrats will need an appeal that crosses racial lines. Bullock also concludes that the Republicans suffer a division between economically-minded "business" Republicans and social conservatives, and he notes that these divisions can lead to electoral losses in general elections if the primary races are hotly divided.

Keywords: 1996 election; 2002 election; 2018 gubernatorial race; 2021 redistricting; Guy Millner; Hillary Clinton; Jason Carter; Johnny Isakson; Josh McKoon; Michael Williams; Michelle Nunn; Nathan Deal; Religious Freedom Restoration Act; Roy Moore; Sonny Perdue; Stacey Abrams; Stacey Evans; blue-collar workers; evangelical Christians; minority voters; white vote

01:29:14 - Effects of Donald Trump in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: Speaking of bitter races, the 2016 presidential election.

Segment Synopsis: Bullock explains that despite Hillary Clinton's success in turning out votes in metro Atlanta in 2016, Donald Trump countered by raising rural turnout, leading to him winning Georgia's electoral college votes by a safe margin. Bullock then considers what effects, if any, Trump's presidency, had on special election races in the state in 2017.

Keywords: 2017 6th Congressional district special election; 7th Congressional district; Athens, Georgia; Cobb County, Georgia; DeKalb County, Georgia; Gwinnett County, Georgia; John Linder; John Wallace; Jon Ossoff; Karen Handel; Rob Woodall; Watkinsville, Georgia; demographic changes; fundraising

01:36:18 - Predictions for 2018

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Partial Transcript: How much effect--historically, the President's party loses seats in Congress in a midterm.

Segment Synopsis: Bullock predicts that in the 2018 general election, Donald Trump's presidency and unpopularity will have few down-ballot effects in Georgia. He believes that the results could determine actions from both parties--Republicans may redraw districts to protect their legislative majorities, and Democrats may run more black candidates to make gains by increasing black turnout.

Keywords: "jungle primary"; 1992 election; Clayton County, Georgia; Cobb County, Georgia; DeKalb County, Georgia; Fulton County, Georgia; Gwinnett County, Georgia; Henry County, Georgia; Hillary Clinton; Max Cleland; Paul Coverdell; Public Service Commission; Roy Moore; Stacey Abrams; Wyche Fowler; black vote; midterm elections; runoff election

01:42:04 - Future of Georgia politics

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Partial Transcript: If we're looking ahead ten, twenty years, what does the partisan makeup of Georgia look like in terms of the legislature?

Segment Synopsis: Bullock considers the problems that the Republican Party must overcome if it wishes to remain dominant in Georgia, namely minority outreach and unpopularity among young voters. Regardless, Bullock concludes that Republicans will first start losing statewide races to Democrats before losing the legislature and Congressional seats.

Keywords: George W. Bush; Hispanic voters; Pete Wilson; black voters; gender gap; generational replacement; immigration; millennials; minority party; redistricting; white voters