Last white House Dem falls in Deep South

Greg Nash

Rep. John BarrowJohn BarrowDem files Ethics complaint on Benghazi panel Barrow thanks staff in farewell speech The best and the worst of the midterms MORE (D-Ga.) lost reelection Tuesday night, marking the end of an era as the last white House Democrat representing the Deep South.

Barrow's loss also reflects the diminishing presence of political centrists in Congress. 

The fifth-term incumbent lost to GOP businessman Rick Allen, 53 percent to 46 percent with 91 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press. Democrats acknowledged that Allen was one of the toughest opponents Barrow had ever faced. 

Despite representing a conservative district, Barrow managed to fend off GOP challengers over the years with his exceptional retail politicking skills and folksy appeal. Weak GOP opponents also helped Barrow maintain an edge in previous elections.

Barrow regularly secured endorsements from the National Rifle Association and highlighted his support for gun rights.

In one infamous 2012 campaign ad, Barrow showcased his guns in a living room, including his grandfather's Smith & Wesson he had used "to help stop a lynching."

The five states of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina are considered as the "Deep South."

Starting in the civil rights era, Southern whites have largely coalesced around Republicans while Democrats courted the support of African-Americans. White Democrats in the South won reelection by maintaining centrist voting records to appeal to multiple racial groups. But in recent years, in line with the national trend of fewer centrists in Congress, white Democrats have had trouble hanging on in the South.

Republicans also successfully toppled another longtime incumbent Tuesday night: 19-term Rep. Nick Rahall (W.Va.), the top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Both losses highlight the difficult conditions Democrats faced in 2014 and are another blow for the diminishing coalition of Blue Dog Democrats.

Barrow's defeat was the fifth House GOP pickup Tuesday night. Republicans are trying to pick up 11 seats to expand their majority to 245 members.