Rather than joining the Democratic trend nationally, Mississippi voters seem more likely to replay 1964 when Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater carried the state with 88 percent of the vote while President Lyndon Johnson won in a landslide nationally.
That election reversed Mississippi’s century-old disdain for Republicans, simply because Goldwater voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Fundamentally, race also sparked the rise of Republicanism in Mississippi after LBJ signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Newly enfranchised blacks began voting Democratic out of loyalty to their heroes – Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy – and white Dixie Democrats began joining the GOP, egged on by clever Republican operatives whose racial code words branded the GOP as the “white” party and the Democratic Party the “black” party.
Though the nation gave Bush an F for his response to Katrina, Barbour in a debate at Biloxi with John Arthur Eaves, his Democratic gubernatorial opponent, declared he was “proud of the Bush administration” for helping the Coast in the Katrina aftermath.
In feel-good TV commercials, Barbour by innuendo positions himself as post-Katrina hero, saying the country and world “liked what they saw” in Mississippi’s response to the storm. Barbour says nothing, of course, about the housing and home insurance crisis that two years later still makes much of the Coast look like a disaster area.