Where Is The South?
Mirroring yesterday’s post about the Midwest, today’ FiveThirtyEight’s Walt Hickey looks at the results of a similar survey about the South:
First, the Southerners were considerably more certain of which states are their own. While the top few Midwest states barely pulled 80 percent of the vote, nearly 90 percent of respondents identified Georgia and Alabama as Southern, and more than 80 percent placed Mississippi and Louisiana in the South. South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and North Carolina all garnered above 60 percent.
Southerners seem remarkably content to mess with Texas, giving it 57 percent support. Virginia, Arkansas and Kentucky hovered at about 50 percent.
Also, Maryland — well and truly — is not a Southern state, according to actual Southerners. It pulled a pathetic 6 percent of the vote. That’s worse than Arizona and New Mexico. Walter White is more Southern than a Marylander. Allow me to welcome you to the North, Maryland. I’ve always loved your well-appointed Interstate 95 rest stops!
Consistent with a tradition of skepticism of the federal government, the South further disagrees with the census designation of what’s in the South. In addition to Maryland, Oklahoma and West Virginia both pulled less than 25 percent support, despite the fact that the census says they’re the South. Take that, big government.
Maryland has always been an interesting case. It was, along with Delaware and Kentucky, one of the three slave states that remained in the Union during the Civil War. At the same time, though, the Free State had some very strong pro-Confederate/Anti-Lincoln sentiments at the time, to the extent that Abraham Lincoln was forced to transit through the state in disguise on his journey to Washington, D.C. to get inaugurated in 1861. Additionally, the Mason-Dixon Line, which has long stood as the symbolic divide between the North and the South is at the Pennsylvania-Maryland border, something that has surprised more people than I can mention when it has come up in conversation. At the same time, though, there really isn’t much of anything “southern” about Maryland at this point. Baltimore has become as much a Mid-Atlantic/Northeastern city as the rest of the D.C.-to-New York I-95 corridor that it sits upon. Western Maryland has more in common with West Virginia and Pennsylvania than it does anything in the South. And, Annapolis and the Eastern Shore have become their own mini-geographic area along with Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Culturally, the story is pretty much the same. Maryland may have been “southern” in 1861, but it certainly isn’t today.
Of similar interest are the perceptions, yet again, of Missouri:
Also, does anyone know what’s going on with Missouri? Mostly excluded from the South and Midwest, it appears to be the geographic equivalent of the last kid picked during dodgeball.
Of course, there’s also a Civil War element to Missouri’s story as well. In the months leading up to war, Missouri’s allegiance was bitterly fought over by partisans on both the Confederate and Union sides, and the state ended up sending men to fight in both nation’s armies. During the war, there would often be minor skirmishes in the state between the two sides as well. In a sense, then, Missouri was a state that didn’t know quite where it belonged. That appears to still be the case.