South was once solidly Democrat

Image by John T. McCutcheonImage by 20081109-cartoon.jpg Entitle "The Mysterious Stranger," this political cartoon from 1904 presidential election depicts Missouri breaking ranks with the "Solid South" and voting Republican.

For nearly a century, the South offered solid support to the Democrats, and yet today the region votes solidly Republican. Local Jack Bass wrote a piece in The Post and Courier about how solid the South's support was, and how thoroughly South Carolina supports the Republican's today.

He briefly covers the critical flip period leading up to the 1960s:
Republican Dwight Eisenhower, meanwhile, attracted large support throughout the region, especially in new suburban and other white middle and upper-class precincts, as well as retaining party support from clusters of black Republicans who remained loyal to the party of Abraham Lincoln.

In 1960, Gov. Fritz Hollings would provide skilled leadership navigating rough waters of racial change, but Republicans began challenging Democrats in 1966, running contested races for all congressional offices and gaining a foothold in the Legislature.

But, Wikipedia is somewhat less kind on the South:
The "Solid South" began to erode when Democratic President Harry S. Truman began supporting the civil rights movement. ... In the elections of 1952 and 1956, the popular Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower carried several border southern states, with especially strong showings in the new suburbs. ...

The parties' positions on civil rights continued to evolve in the run up to the 1964 election. The Democratic candidate, Johnson, who had become president after Kennedy's assassination, spared no effort to win passage of a strong Civil Rights Act. After signing the landmark legislation, Johnson said to his aide, Bill Moyers, "I think we just delivered the South to the Republican Party for a long time to come."

That November ... the South had switched parties for the first time.

Though the debate of why the South switch sides is crucial in the narrative, Bass's writing sheds interesting light on how thoroughly the South supported the Democratic Party and how thoroughly the South and South Carolina support the Republicans today.

Still, Wikipedia suggests that today's "New Solid South" may be changing:
Many major corporations are franchising or relocating to southern states such as North Carolina, Georgia, and Texas because of favorable banking laws and "right to work" attitudes. Democrats hope that the resulting change in the traditional southern demographic will help their party.

Go onward and read Jack Bass's story, and read Wikipedia's entry.