Losing Little Dixie: How Decades Of Democratic Dominance Came To An End In Southeast Oklahoma

Southeast Oklahoma is an unusual place, politically. Many southerners settled in the area after the Civil War, leading to its nickname “Little Dixie.”

Through the 20th century, it became the center of political power in Oklahoma, and the Democratic Party dominated politics well into the late 1990s. Decades after the formerly “Solid South” had switched to the Republican Party, Democrats enjoyed an 8:1 voter registration advantage in southeast Oklahoma.

Despite the backlash against the Democrats over civil rights in the 1960s, despite the Reagan Revolution, and the ensuing culture wars, for years a Republican trying to run for local office in Little Dixie utterly wasted his time and money. But over the past decade, that Democratic dominance has completely collapsed. The question isn’t really why this part of Oklahoma turned away from the Democratic Party, but why it took so long?

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