Is this a new political South?

There's a lot to watch Tuesday night. But to me, nothing will be more interesting than seeing whether a Democratic presidential candidate can crack North Carolina for the first time in 32 years and Virginia for the second time in 60 years. And if so, whether that heralds the start of a new political dynamic in the South.

There are moments in history that determine how things play out for decades or generations. We might be at one of those points on Tuesday. Or it might be a passing flirtation.

Democrats owned the "Solid South" for the better part of a hundred years following the Civil War. Republican support for black rights during Reconstruction alienated the segregated South and led to Democratic domination for the last quarter of the 19th century and more than the first half of the 20th century.

That started to crack under Truman and really began to crumble with Kennedy's support for civil rights. When LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he doomed Democrats running for president in the South for almost all of the next 44 years. Hubert Humphrey was shut out from the entire South (Texas isn't the South) in 1968, and since then only Georgian Jimmy Carter in 1976 has fared well here. Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004 won not a single Southern state.

To read the complete column, visit The Charlotte Observer.