The ‘religious’ right–which is intertwined with racism–never went away:
In places like Alabama, especially in off-year elections, evangelicals are going to be a huge percentage of the white vote. If there is low turnout in other states, like the Midwest in 2016, then the fundamentalist influence will be greater and can tip a close election.
As I’ve noted before, about one out of three racist whites vote Democratic in spite of and in opposition to their racism (and figuring out why they do so, and then doing that some more is necessary–not every Republican candidate will be a pedophile). About one out of three whites is racist according to the same data. But abortion is a line many won’t cross: does anyone think that one third of staunch abortion opponents will vote Democratic? The abortion issue (and I’m using that as a proxy for ‘cultural’ issues, including anti-LGBTQ bigotry) also gives racists a ‘legitimate’ excuse to indulge their racism.
It’s not like the fundamentalist right suddenly upped and moved to Fundamentalist Land circa 2008…
(and, no, I’m not arguing Democrats should go soft on pro-choice. But we do need to understand motivations and who can’t and can be persuaded.)