The party that nominated George Wallace for president in 1968 (the American Independent Party) seems very similar to the State's Rights Democratic Party (aka. Dixiecrat) that nominated Strom Thurmond for the presidency in 1948.

Were they 'the same party' separated by twenty years? Did they have the same ideology? Did they attract the same voters? Did they have any of the same people in leadership positions?

If not, what were the important differences between the two parties?

  • 5
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is a question going to political science theory. Jul 9, 2015 at 12:06
  • 5
    @SamuelRussell and why on Earth would a specific branch of history be off-topic? O_O
    – o0'.
    Jul 9, 2015 at 15:27
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    This is a history question, unless history is only recounting facts with no analysis. 'The same party' is not a quote, just a shorthand way of saying two separate organisations with the same ideas.
    – Ne Mo
    Jul 10, 2015 at 10:15
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    This is a history question, unless Bernard Bailyn's Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, Lee Benson's The Concept of Jacksonian Democracy, and Daniel Walker Howe's Political Culture of the American Whigs aren't works of history.
    – two sheds
    Jul 10, 2015 at 11:02
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    @SamuelRussell "political science" != "political history". History is history is history. Not complicated.
    – o0'.
    Jul 10, 2015 at 12:59

2 Answers 2


The Dixiecrats and the AIP were not really the same party, because they were led differently. But they had somewhat the same ideologies, geographies and voters.

The Dixiecrats were led by Strom Thurmond, an aristocrat. He was pro-business and particularly popular among business owners in the coastal regions the south, and won his native South Carolina, plus the Gulf states of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana in the 1948 Presidential election.

The AIP was led by Governor George Wallace of Alabama, who was a champion of the poor white (often union) working man. There are some authorities that believe that Wallace's racism was less a reflection of his personal beliefs than a matter of political expediency. His career took off (among white voters) when he started using anti-black rhetoric. In his 1968 Presidential campaign, Wallace won the three Gulf states, plus Georgia and Arkansas. Interestingly, he did not win South Carolina, which Thurmond held for Nixon.

In a "forced choice," Thurmond much preferred the (post 1964) Republican party to the Democrats, and eventually became a Republican. Wallace ran on a third party ticket saying "There's not a dime's worth of difference" between the two major ones.

So the two parties were not the same, even though they were both based in the deep South and were anti civil rights.

  • Thank you. Would be interesting to know what thurmond and other former Dixiecrats had to say about the AIP.
    – Ne Mo
    May 23, 2016 at 7:22

For the most part yes, as their fundamental issue in both cases was support for segregation and white supremecy.

They were a bit different in theory, in that the AIP was founded as a conservative (far right) party that then courted southern whites, while the Dixiecrats were formed out of the southern Democratic party. However, in practice they both drew all their strength in their best years from the same sources. The Dixecrats won Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina (and one EV from Tennesse) in 1948, while in 1968 the AIP won Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.

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