Defections reflect the Democrats' drubbing in the midterm election and Republicans' consolidation of power in the South.
Since the midterm election, 24 state senators and representatives have made the switch in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Texas.
In some cases, the ramifications have been profound: In Louisiana, defecting Democrats gave Republicans a majority in the state House for the first time since Reconstruction; in Alabama, they delivered the GOP a House supermajority. Republicans have 65 votes to the Democrats' 39, enough to pass constitutional amendments over Democratic opposition.
Democrats may remain competitive in some parts of the South in 2012. The Democratic Party's announcement last week that it will hold its national convention in Charlotte, N.C., may help President Obama's chances in what has become a Southern swing state — and one that he narrowly won in 2008.
Many Democrats in the South were in the Democrat Party more out of habit and family tradition than out of any deeply held philosophical belief.
The tradition of being Democrat just because your parents and grandparents were, is starting to fade. After all, the Democrat Party of today is not your father's Democrat Party.
Although Ronald Reagan was not from the south, he was once a Democrat who famously said in 1962, "I didn't leave the Democrat Party. The Democrat Party left me."