What I'm going to suggest here has major implications for the future of the Republican Party. I believe that a party capable of consistently winning the Southern states (by which I mean those of the former Confederacy plus Kentucky and Oklahoma) is at a serious disadvantage when it comes to putting together a national coalition capable of winning the White House. I suggest that this has been so since the end of Reconstruction, say since the presidential election of 1880. THAT this is so can be seen from the record of presidential elections since then. We have had 33 presidential elections since 1880. In those 33 elections, the candidate who won the White House lost the South in all but twelve of them. The Southern loser (or a Southern loser -- in several elections both major party candidates lost the South) won the White House 63.6 percent of the time. What's more, several elections distort this so that the effect is probably greater even than it looks on the face of it. Here I include Woodrow Wilson's initial win in 1912, when Theodore Roosevelt played a third-party spoiler role, FDR's four electoral wins when he could hardly have lost, Nixon's incredible blowout in 1972 and Reagan's in both his elections. I won't try to correct the stats for this, merely mention it in passing. So it's visibly true: the South is political poison. To win the South is, most of the time, to lose the national election. Perhaps the more important question, though, is why. That the South has a culture distinct from the rest of the country is something few will deny. That has a big impact on politics. The South is more authoritarian, clannish, and religious in culturally conservative ways than any other part of the U.S. Southerners are more likely to be in favor of foreign wars and of imposition of religious-morality-based laws. They are less likely to be in favor of measures imposing racial equality, gender and sexual-orientation equality, religious tolerance, or separation of church and state. It follows that political positions popular in the South are often very much otherwise in other parts of the country, particularly in the Northeast, Midwest, and West Coast, and vice-versa. Now here's the kicker: today's "conservative movement" is significantly a Southern right-wing movement. That's not to say that everyone who calls himself a "conservative" is from the South, but that the positions advocated are all popular in the South and command much less loyalty elsewhere. As long as the Republican Party identifies itself with the "conservative movement" as that manifests today, it will be consistently successful in the South -- and just as consistently unsuccessful in most of the rest of the nation. If you look at Republican politicians who have been successful in other parts of the country, such as today's GOP Senators from the Northeast (Snowe, Collins, Brown) and former Governor Schwarzenegger of California, while they are certainly not liberals or progressives, they are not "movement" conservatives, either -- they are not positioned to do well in the South. But some of them are well positioned to win a national election. Schwarzenegger probably could if the Constitution allowed him to run for president, which it doesn't; Scott Brown will likely be a very good candidate one of these days, if he can win the nomination -- which, at present, is very doubtful. In prior days, when the Democratic Party had a lock on the South, keeping Southerners voting Democratic required that the Dems avoid certain positions, particularly on race and in foreign policy. This lowered the party's appeal to the voters quite a lot in regions outside the South. Today, the Republican Party is suffering from the same malady. If the GOP wishes to remain a viable national party, it must adopt positions with national rather than just regional appeal, and that means it must risk losing the South.