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date: 05 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article explores how southern influence in Congress evolved over the second half of the twentieth century. The South's influence was substantial at midcentury. It was both pivotal and agenda-setting, and it was exercised entirely within the Democratic Party. By the end of the century the influence of the South had declined and had come to be exercised in different forms in both parties. In the contemporary Congress a small number of southern Democrats continues to exercise pivotal influence, especially under Democratic majorities. Southern Republicans exercise some agenda-setting influence, especially under Republican majorities. The article begins by setting the discussion in historical and electoral context. It then addresses the diffusion of the South's pivotal influence, followed by the transformation of its role in shaping the congressional agenda. It concludes by assessing the continuing prospects for southern influence in Congress.

Keywords: agenda setting, Democratic Party, congressional agenda, southern Democrats, southern influence

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