With Sen. Arlen Specter's switch to the Democrats, the Republican Party is increasingly at risk of being viewed as a mostly Southern and solidly conservative party, an identity that might take years to overcome.At risk of being viewed as mostly Southern and conservative?? Uhh, this has been their entire marketing pitch for over a decade now. They took the success of the "Southern Strategy" and made it the cornerstone of their party. This is like saying that Coca-Cola is at risk of being identified as a soft drink company. Sure, they also sell water, but it's the sweet stuff that pays the bills.
Not that you had to be a Southerner to be Republican, but you had to acknowledge that Southern culture is better than everyone else's. In fact, a large part of their audience are city slickers who like to imagine they're rural folks by driving pick-up trucks, listening to country pop music, and wearing hats all the time. It made their hallow existence instantly authentic and homey. And you certainly had to be conservative.
And the article puts this in the context of the southern shift that occurred during the 80's and 90's, as conservative Democrats became conservative Republicans, but it fails to understand why that happened. These weren't random events in which the "tide has reversed," but are actually part of the same shift. What happened is that conservatives are intolerant, uncompromising a-holes who were looking for a monolithic group identity. They left the Dems because they didn't like sharing their party with tolerant people. And over time, the tolerant Republicans noticed what was happening, so they ran in the other direction. And that's exactly what the conservatives wanted.
And as usual, the media is the last to know about this. They thought all the fevered rhetoric was theater and didn't understand who real conservatives were. They knew that the "Southern Strategy" involved telling Southern rubes what they wanted to hear to woo them into voting for people they wouldn't otherwise have voted for. But they didn't realize that the rubes had taken over the party. The Beltway crowd thought they were getting Hee-Haw, but ended up with Deliverance.