The Reid Report Defines Southern Republican Support As 'A Race Issue'

Leave it to MSNBC to group all Southern Republicans together as misguided racists. On the May 20 edition of The Reid Report, anchor Joy Reid invited Democratic strategist Tara Dowdell and Jimmy Williams, an MSNBC contributor and executive editor of bluenationreview.com, to discuss the inability of Democrats to garner substantial support in the South.

While Obama received support from 39 percent of white voters on average, Reid explained, he only received support from 10 percent of white voters in Mississippi and 15 percent of white voters in Alabama. When Reid asked Williams -- a former Senate Democratic staffer and South Carolina native –  how such a disparity could exist, he was ready to roll with MSNBC’s favorite answer: Republican racism. [See video below. Click here for MP3 audio]

    
As Reid and Dowdell nodded their heads in agreement, Williams stated that we should all “call it like it is,” and recognize this as an issue of race. He described the Southern voting block as being full of “white men above the age of 50" who are “never going to change their views on race.”
    
Later in the segment, Reid questioned why Southerners, many of whom face the “deepest economic hole” in terms of unemployment and economic opportunity, continue to vote Republican. Williams dismissed this fact and chalked it up to Republican ignorance, claiming “it’s the only thing they know how to do.” He completed his argument with an anecdote about his conservative mother, who decided not to vote when her favorite politician, Hillary Clinton, lost the Democratic primary in 2008. “Now that tells you everything you need to understand about the way the South is versus how it's trending” Williams states.

MSNBC has engaged in labeling Republican voters as racist many times before.

My colleague Rich Noyes has an excellent analysis on that which you can find by clicking here.


5/20/2014
The Reid Report        
2:34 PM
50 seconds

JOY REID: When we just showed president Obama's performance among white voters in the South in 2012. In Mississippi he got 10% of the white vote, in Alabama 15%. His national average was 39% among all white voters. Which is in and of itself down significantly from '08. But then when you look at how he did in the Midwest, in Michigan or in Ohio or in Wisconsin, or even in Ohio where he actually got a slight majority, the president performs significantly better. It really is a southern phenomenon both for the president and for Democrats at large. Why do you suppose that is?

JIMMY WILLIAMS: Well I think you've got to look back at when this all began, obviously with the Goldwater revolution, if you will. With the southern doctrine. And this -- what we're having a conversation about is how did, how did the identity politics come about, right? So you just showed how he did everywhere else in the country except for the South. So that tells me one thing. It's a race issue. Let’s just call it what it is. And so white men above the age of 50, they're never going to change their views on race. They don’t need to, they're already halfway through with their lives. Why would they change? That's not who we should care about.

2:37 PM
57 seconds

JOY REID: Yet when you look at the Republican party, 41% of the Republican party’s entire voting base, 41% comes from the South. More than half of House Republicans were elected from the South. The very people who were facing the deepest economic hole, essentially, are still consistently choosing Republicans. Why do you suppose that's happening?

JIMMY WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, it's the only thing they know how to do. Again, these people are -- they're my relatives for gosh sakes. I mean, I understand what their mentality is. But I'll give you a great example. You want a good example about how all this can change? The day that Hillary Clinton lost the primary, the Democratic primary to Barack Obama in 2008, she was a big Hillary fan. Huge Hillary fan. My mother is conservative. I pick up the phone, I call her and say what are you going to do now that Obama's won? I just won't vote. Now that tells you everything you need to understand about the way the South is versus how it's trending.

Laura Flint
Laura Flint is a 2014 summer intern for the MRC's News Analysis Division.