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The Deep South is a descriptive category of the cultural and geographic subregions in the American South. Historically, it is differentiated from the "Upper South" as being the states which were most dependent on plantation type agriculture during the antebellum period. The Deep South was also commonly referred to as the Lower South or the "Cotton States".

Today, the Deep South is usually delineated as being those states and areas where things most often thought of as "Southern" exist in their most concentrated form.

Usage of the term

The term "Deep South" is defined in a variety of ways:

Politics of the Deep South

For most of the 19th century and 20th century, the Deep South overwhelmingly supported the Democratic Party, viewing the rival Republican Party as a Northern organization responsible for the American Civil War, which devastated the economy of the Old South. However, since the 1964 presidential election along with the Civil Rights Movement, the Deep South has tended to vote Republican in presidential elections, except in the 1976 election when Georgia native Jimmy Carter received the Democratic nomination. Since the 1990s there has been a continued shift toward Republican candidates in most political venues; another Georgian, Republican Newt Gingrich, was elected Speaker of the House in 1995.Presidential elections in which the region diverged noticeably from the Upper South occurred in 1928, 1948, 1964, 1968, and, to a lesser extent, in 1952, 1956 and 2008. Arkansan Mike Huckabee did well in the Deep South in 2008 Republican primaries, losing only one state (South Carolina) while running (he had dropped out of the race before the primary in Mississippi). He struggled, though, outside the South, winning just 12.9 percent of the delegate count.

Cultural variations

Although originally considered Deep or Lower South, the states of Florida and Texas—as a whole—are not usually classified with this sub-region today. While areas of both (notably East Texas and the Florida panhandle) still retain many characteristics of the Deep South, heavy migration from outside the South as well as other historical circumstances have had the effect of diluting its overall cultural influence elsewhere within these states.

In the case of Florida, some 15% of Florida's population are retired people from all over the country. This is especially apparent in coastal South Florida. Many families (especially from the Northeast) move to Florida, and have become well-cemented into the area. In many parts of the state, this creates a cultural atmosphere very distinct from the rest of the Deep South. The culture is even further influenced by the huge Hispanic presence (20.1% of the population is Hispanic with 15.94% as White Hispanic). While most Deep South states have some semblance of a Hispanic population, they are nowhere near Texas' or Florida's in size. This diversity occurs mainly in South Florida and Central Florida. However those native to Florida (sometimes referred to as a Florida Cracker), in many parts of the state, such as the Florida Panhandle, North Central Florida, the Florida Heartland, and parts of rural Florida, do maintain the Deep South culture.

In addition to migration from non-Southern states and an ever growing Hispanic population in recent decades, the settlement history of Texas after the Civil War was also a major factor in its becoming separated from the generally regarded Deep South. The western half of the state was a frontier after the conflict, and although the vast majority of new settlers were displaced Southerners looking to get a new start and Southern culture very much dominated, the resulting cattle boom and cowboy era gave rise to a way of life for many which was in stark contrast to that of the ante-bellum Deep South. Too, the physical environment (plains and prairies) of large parts of Texas differed considerably from that of the forested and cliched "moonlight and magnolias" Lower South. Although cotton remained "king" in Texas, these factors—along with the popularity of Hollywood "western movies"—began to establish Texas as "different" from the other states of the Deep South.

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