Political Shifts During the Carter Years: North Carolina Conservativsm and Stokes County's Perception of Tobacco, The Economy, and Foreign Policy

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Title: Political Shifts During the Carter Years: North Carolina Conservativsm and Stokes County's Perception of Tobacco, The Economy, and Foreign Policy
Author: Mitchell, Robert Wayne
Advisors: Dr. Nancy Mitchell, Committee Chair
Abstract: This thesis explores political shifts in the 5th District of North Carolina during the years President Jimmy Carter occupied the White House. In order to demonstrate how national politics percolate down to the local, it also examines voting patterns, voter perception of several important issues, and the political survival of 5th District Democratic Congressman Steve Neal in a time of increasing GOP dominance. Sources included careful reviews of local newspapers, campaign literature, interviews, position papers, and polling data. The 5th District of northwestern North Carolina and a rural county within that district, Stokes County, is examined as an example of the political shifts that occurred in favor of the more conservative Republican candidates. The intense rhetoric in opposition to Congressman Neal, a Carter loyalist, regarding the issues of tobacco, economics, and foreign policy are highlighted, for they played major roles in swaying the local electorate in the elections of '76, '78, and '80. In addition, this research considers the impact of national politics on local and state races at a time when President Carter was becoming less popular. This research also analyzes Congressman Neal?s struggles to maintain his political life. Neal was successful, when other Democrats on the ticket, including N.C. Senator Robert Morgan and President Carter, were soundly defeated. The ability of Congressman Neal to fight back against negative attacks and often outlandish rhetoric reveals the strengths and weaknesses of the Democratic Party in the South, in North Carolina, and the 5th District. It also underscores how conservatism has come to dominate, with few exceptions, at the ballot box.
Date: 2003-04-30
Degree: MA
Discipline: History
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/597


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