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political poster saying 'vote democratic' and showing a yellow dog
figure 1  


yellow dog Democrat. Such a party line voter that he or she (though most likely he) would vote Democratic, even if the candidate were a yellow dog.

This political term dates back to a time when political analysts referred to the Solid South. There is a lesson here in the ways in which political parties can change. It was the Republican Party that came into being in the mid-19th century and whose successful presidential candidate was Abraham Lincoln. It was Lincoln who championed Reconstruction after the Civil War, and the Democrats who adamantly opposed it. For a nearly a century, it was the latter party that was actively segregationist and, in the South, almost completely dominant. Party loyalty was so firm that many members declared that they would sooner vote for a yellow dog as for a Republican.reference 1 A yellow dog, or yaller dog, was just about the lowest creature in the hierarchy of beings in the culture at that time. They were not quite the lowest, however: Republicans claimed that position.

Party loyalty has faded in the South, giving way to an almost solidly Republican region. It was the Reagan Democrats who finally closed the door on the Solid South era. Whether this has given way to a new era in which the Democratic Party genuinely respects and incorporates African American perspectives, we can say that 80-90% of African Americans who are registered to vote are members of this party.reference 2

1. Grear, Peter. 1999. Yellow Dogs Bite Yellow Dogs? The National Black Family Empowerment Agenda. Accessed Sept 3 2001 from http:// /nbfea/ yellow-dogs-bite-1.htm.

2. Neal, Terry M. and Thomas B. Edsall. 1998. Democrats Fear Loss of Black Loyalty. Washington Post, Aug 3 1998, A01. Accessed from: http:// /wp-srv/politics/ campaigns/keyraces98/ stories/keydem080398.htm

About the illustration: Digitally collaged by the author.  
see also: yaller dog
Blue Dog Democrat; Red Dog Democrat
Last updated: February 23, 2009
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