The Ku Klux Klan played an active and enduring role in steering southern white voters away from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party, according to a new study.
The white supremacist group resurged to prominence in the 1960s as a reaction to the civil rights movement, and its violent extremism inflamed racial division and polarized communities for generations, according to the study published by the American Sociological Review.
“It encouraged white voters to prioritize the defense of white supremacy when making voting decisions, upending long-standing Democratic Party allegiances,” wrote the study’s authors.
By the early 1970s, the researchers argued, “it had become increasingly clear that the national Republican Party was more in line with the interest of those opposed to civil rights than was the Democratic Party.”
When all other variables were factored out, the researchers said the average increase in Republican voting between Nixon’s unsuccessful 1960 campaign and Ronald Reagan’s 1980 win was 3.7 percent higher in Klan counties compared to non-Klan counties. […]