Like Ronald Reagan, George Bush built his victory on a solid South, securing the electoral votes of every state in a region that was once the bastion of the Democratic Party.

The area that barely gave President Jimmy Carter his home state of Georgia in 1980 and stood solidly behind Reagan in 1984 gave the vice president a firm base to cushion his already comfortable win this year.

But GOP strength at the top of the ticket did not always trickle down to other Republicans in this region. In Tennessee, for example, where Bush surprised even Republicans by winning virtually the same percentage of votes as Reagan in 1984, Democratic Sen. Jim Sasser won by an even larger margin.

"It's another solid South . . . but it's still a split decision," said Larry Sabato, a professor of political science at the University of Virginia. Southerners continued to vote for the GOP presidential nominee but deserted the Republicans for congressional and local candidates, he noted.

"The name {of the GOP presidential nominee} changes every four years, but the results are the same . . . ," Sabato said. "The Democrats at the local level have been able to insulate themselves from the national albatross."

Across the South, voters seemed to want to stick with the status quo -- no matter the party.

Southern Democrats, many of whom found themselves once again wincing at the comparison to the man at the top of their ticket, said that Michael S. Dukakis won black votes but scared away many potential white voters because of his label as a northeastern liberal.

Getting the black vote in the South is not that difficult for a Democrat, said Clairbourne Darden, an Atlanta political consultant. "It's been said that getting a black to vote for a Republican is like getting a chicken to vote for Colonel Sanders," he added.

Alabama

Bush trailed Reagan's 23-point 1984 margin, but not by much in a state that two presidential nominees bypassed during the campaign.

Rep. Sonny Callahan, a two-term Republican from Mobile, easily defeated John Tyson, a lawyer and vice chairman of the State Board of Education, in the only congressional seat that was seriously contested.

Bush's margin here was larger than expected despite the absence of a strong state party organization and economic troubles that the Democrats had hoped to exploit. The half-serious hope of some Democrats that deer hunters would remain in the fields rather than vote also failed to materialize as Bush finished with a lead in double digits.

Florida

lthough Florida was an easy win for Bush and is increasingly showing its political colors to be conservative, the Senate seat vacated by Democrat Lawton Chiles was the subject of one of the closest fights in the country.

Republican Rep. Connie Mack held onto a slender lead in the Senate race after narrowly trailing Democrat Buddy MacKay throughout much of yesterday, with absentee ballots still being counted.

Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole (R-Kan.) on Tuesday night criticized Bush for not campaigning more in Florida to help Mack in his hard-fought race. "We could have used a little help from the vice president in some of the states -- Florida. We pleaded with them to go to Florida," Dole said.

However, the Republicans quickly replaced MacKay in the congressional seat he left behind to run for the Senate and began nibbling into the predominantly Democratic state legislature, eyeing the important reapportionment process that comes after the 1990 census.

Allen Morris, a longtime observer of Florida's state political scene and clerk emeritus of the Florida House of Representatives, said the 1988 election in Florida meant that "we are demonstrably a two-party state for the first time.

"In a number of places where {Democratic} candidates seemed to be shoo-ins, they were defeated by thousands of people coming in from other states and bringing their Republican views with them," Morris said.

Georgia

Bush easily marched through Georgia, winning 60 percent of the vote, thanks to Democrats who had largely abandoned Dukakis weeks ago. Democrats did manage to win the suburban Atlanta seat of Rep. Pat Swindall, the two-term Republican indicted on charges of lying to a federal grand jury about benefiting from money passed through a drug-laundering scheme.

"If I remember correctly, old Abraham Lincoln had a few losses," said Swindall, as he conceded to Democrat Ben Jones, a former television star whom Swindall had accused of being a drunk and a wife-beater. "I guess if we've got to lose one, I'd rather lose tonight than the trial. I've got more to worry about than politics."

Swindall, who lost by a lopsided margin, offered to "show some of the ropes I've learned in Congress" to Jones, a recovering alcoholic.

Georgia's two other House incumbents who faced serious challenges easily won. "It's still like it was yesterday and like it was four years ago and four years before that," said consultant Darden.

Kentucky

Bush's lead was larger than expected, but it did not hurt Democratic Rep. Carl Perkins, the only member of the Kentucky delegation who faced a serious challenge.

Perkins had little difficulty holding on to the eastern Kentucky seat he inherited in 1984 from his father, a former Education and Labor Committee chairman, despite former judge Will Scott's efforts to question young Perkins' voting record.

Louisiana

Troubles in Louisiana's economy, especially its oil industry, pushed the state where Bush was nominated and promised a "kinder and gentler nation" solidly into his camp although he did not campaign there after the GOP's New Orleans convention.

Freshman Republican Rep. Clyde Holloway, who represents the Baton Rouge area, easily defeated his 1986 challenger Faye Williams, a black lawyer, for the second time. Holloway's margin was stronger than in their initial, racially divisive contest.

Mississippi

Bush easily won Mississippi's seven electorial votes. And Republican Trent Lott's victory to succeed retiring Sen. John Stennis gives the state its first two Republican senators since Reconstruction.

Despite a $3.6 million campaign, Lott's margin trailed that of Bush and fell under the percentage that Thad Cochran had when he became Mississippi's first popularly elected GOP senator in 1984.

The GOP also failed to make any inroads on the state's five-member House delegation, retaining only Lott's Gulf Coast district.

Democrat Mike Parker, a mortician, easily defeated Republican Thomas Collins, a former Vietnam prisoner of war, to succeed Rep. Wayne Dowdy, who gave up his seat to run for the Senate. Harrison County Sheriff Larkin Smith, a Republican, beat Democratic state Sen. Gene Taylor by a large margin to keep the GOP in charge of Lott's old district.

Freshman Rep. Mike Espy (D), the first black in the Mississippi delegation, was returned with a landslide victory over Republican lawyer Jack Coleman in his Delta district. His margin was helped by about 35 to 40 percent of the white vote, "a miracle" and probably higher than Dukakis' white support in the state, an Espy spokeswoman said. When elected two years ago, Espy won 10 percent of the white vote in the district.

North Carolina

In a year that may shake up state politics in North Carolina, Republicans claimed the governorship and held a thin lead on the lieutenant governorship of this traditionally more progressive southern state.

With Bush winning the state's 13 electoral votes, Republican Gov. Jim Martin was reelected in a landslide over Lt. Gov. Bob Jordan.

But the lieutenant governor's slot, a bitter race that conservative Republican Jim Gardner was winning by a slim margin, could cause what some observers believe would be an upheaval in state politics.

Traditionally, the lieutenant governor in North Carolina has exercised considerable power over the leadership positions in the legislature. But a Democratic-dominated legislature might balk at such a system with a Republican in the lieutenant governor's chair.

"If Gardner is elected, you can expect the legislature to strip the lieutenant governor of his power and create a big public furor," said Merle Black, professor of political science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. "Gov. Martin will have to come to the defense of his Republican colleague and it will polarize the state government here."

Republicans surprised even many of their supporters Tuesday by seizing nine Democratic seats in the state House and at least one in the Senate. In races for traditionally Democratic slots such as secretary of state, the Democrats held off the Republicans with surprisingly small leads.

Said Black: "We may be looking at a major change in the structure of state politics in North Carolina."

Oklahoma

For the sixth straight time, Oklahoma has given the okay to a Republican presidential candidate. Bush won easily, though Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1.

Oklahomans, who kept their congressional incumbents (four Democrats and two Republicans) have favored only one Democrat since 1948, voting in 1964 for Lyndon Johnson, native of neighboring Texas.

Democratic chairman Bill Bullard said, "We just never had the wherewithal to reverse the negative paint job {the Republicans} did on Dukakis."

Among the most interesting races was the for the congressional seat in the Tulsa area -- a job held by former representative James Jones (D) before he lost in his 1986 bid for the Senate.

The Republican incumbent, James Inhofe, who was faced with publicity about business troubles and lawsuits with his brother, struggled into the victory column, defeating Democrat Kurt Glassco, a former gubernatorial aide running in his first race.

"It was a race that should have been won easily by an incumbent Republican," said Gary Copeland, associate director of the Carl Albert Center at the University of Oklahoma. "If the Democrats are not sitting around in coffee shops in Tulsa plotting who will run for that seat in two years, they're missing an opportunity."

South Carolina

South Carolina this year went for the incumbents, up and down the line. The voters backed Bush and reelected members of Congress in all six districts -- two Republicans and four Democrats.

The most vulnerable of the Democrats in this state -- Rep. Liz Patterson -- squeaked by in a tough race with Greenville council member Knox White. White, who had strong backing from the religious right and who linked Patterson to Dukakis in his advertising, tried to label Patterson as "Lefty Liz."

The label had trouble sticking to Patterson, who has voted with Reagan on many key issues and whose father was prominent Democratic populist Olin D. Johnston, the state's governor in the 1930-40s and senator from 1945-65.

Tennessee

In still another case of voters picking their candidate but not their party, Tennesseeans went for Bush as president but gave Democrat Sasser about two-thirds of the vote.

Sasser, who is in line to be chairman of the powerful Senate Budget Committee, credited his triumph to "the last few months of campaigning, the last 12 years of hard work."

Some Democratic hopes were pinned briefly on the 2nd Congressional District in Knoxville where former state revenue commissioner Dudley Taylor (D) was trying to win the longtime Republican seat. The seat, which was held by Rep. John Duncan (R), who died last summer, was retained by his son Jimmy Duncan, a local judge.

The state retained its congressional lineup of six Democrats and three Republicans.

Texas

Texans were saying the morning after the election that the Longhorn State had sent two-pronged messages to Bush and Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D).

Bentsen, elevated to the role of national statesman with his nomination as the Democrats' vice presidential nominee, learned that even though he recaptured his Senate seat easily, he did not have the power to carry the state at the top of his party's ticket.

And Bush, who won the presidential side handily, found that unlike Reagan, he did not have the power to sweep many other Repubicans into office with him.

On the Gulf Coast, for example, Republican Mac Sweeney, a two-term incumbent, lost to Democratic lawyer Greg Laughlin, who came close to beating Sweeney in the 1984 Reagan landslide.

Still, Republicans began moving into important statewide positions -- the state supreme court and the railroad commission -- making Texas another one of the southern states firmly in a two-party system.

"There was a lot of ticket-splitting, right down to judicial seats," said Jeanie Stanley, professor of political science at the University of Texas in Tyler. Although Texas has elected Republicans as governor and senator in recent years, the elections of Republicans in meat-and-potatoes state jobs "is very important because these will be the only statewide seats they have gotten here since Reconstruction," she said.

Virginia

Former Virginia governor Charles S. Robb, the son-in-law of President Johnson, firmly established his claim to being one of the state's most popular politicians, becoming the first Democrat in 22 years to be elected to the Senate. Robb's landslide victory, crushing Republican Maurice Dawkins, also from the Washington suburbs, with 71 percent of the vote, was expected, as was Bush's lopsided win over Dukakis in the state.

There was no change in the state's 10-member House delegation, which remains evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. The closest race came in largely rural Southside where Democratic Rep. L.F. Payne, who was elected in June to fill the seat of the late W.C. (Dan) Daniel, swept over a Republican state legislator and an independent with more than half of the vote.

If Virginia had a surprise, it was the equally large margin of voters endorsing a referendum to allow pari-mutuel betting.

"Virginians almost take a pride in being national Republicans and state Democrats," said Ed DeBolt, a Northern Virginia Republican strategist who predicted that the 1988 outcome probably would have little effect on next year's gubernatorial race.