Republicans, rich cling to Southern identity

The number of people in the South who identify themselves as Southerners is on the decline.

That's according to a new survey from Vanderbilt University.

It found that the number of people who characterize themselves as Southerners dropped over seven percent during a ten-year period -- from about 78 percent to 70 percent.

Only Republicans, political conservatives and the wealthy maintained the same rates over the period from 1991 to 2001.

Researchers blame the decline on the influx of newcomers to the region.

They also say that since the September 11th 2001 attacks, an area's regional identity may have taken a backseat to national identity.

Researchers analyzed data from 19 polls conducted by the University of North Carolina that asked respondents if they considered themselves Southerners.

Their findings will be included in the fall edition of Southern Cultures, a journal of the Center for the Study of American South at U-N-C.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)