Date of Award

Spring 1950

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




That the South possesses a one-party system of choosing its state and national representatives is an axiom of Anericnn politics . On only three occasions since 1880 have Southern presidential electors cast their votes for any nominee other than that of the Democratic Party. On only four occasions in this period has a Governor of a Southern State been elected on any but a Democratic ticket. This record is convincing testimony that in the States of the late Confederacy the nominees of the Democratic Party are in reality the only candidates having any probability of election.

It would therefore behoove the serious student to delve into the process by which the Democratic Party chooses its nominees, e.g. the Democratic primary . As might be expected, in no two states has exactly the same pattern of behavior evolved . In some, like Florida, a splinter-like Emotionalism has developed which seldom survives more them one election. In some other states-Tennessee is a notable example- a permanent two faction rivalry exists, not unlike the two party rivalry in all the other parts of the Anglo-Saxon world. Between the Florida and Tennessee extremes, there exists many variations of the two basic patterns.

Virginia might be said to possess one of these variations. Belonging to that group of states in which a two faction rivalry exist , the Old Dominion differs from the basic pattern in that one of the two permanent factions of the party is so tightly organized and so completely in control of the political life of the state that a one-faction (or one party) system exists. Thus the one-party system which is universally attributed to the South in reality exists only in Virginia. The examination of a few percentages from recent Virginia state-wide Democratic primaries shows this to be true. In each case the candidate of the dominant faction, or the so-called Byrd Organization, piled up a convincing lead.