Monday, September 12, 2005

Will Louisiana Go Reliably Red

A little population change can make a big difference in the outcome of elections. Note that since 2000, the results of the census changed the makeup of the "red states" such that if in 2004 Bush had won all of the states he did in 2000, his electoral vote take would have increased by 8. The population shifted to the south during the 1990s, and along with them went a significant number of electoral votes. This accretion of population has historically affected our electorate.

But what happens when an entire city gets shifted?

Avulsion as a change to the electorate is a rarity, but we may indeed be seeing that in Louisiana. Many folks from New Orleans have indicated that they do not intend to return to a city prone to catastrophic flooding, and many have accepted jobs in the towns where they intended to be temporarily relocated. Clearly we have no numbers on this, but it stands to reason that the majority of people aren't going to wait around for a year with nothing to do to get back into a destroyed home which will need rebuilding when they can start over in a more secure place where people are hiring.

But the result may be significant for Louisiana, which has lately been a tossup state.

Bobby Jindal (R-LA) narrowly lost the 2003 election for governor to the current embattled Gov. Kathleen Blanco. Sen Mary Landrieu (D-LA) very narrowly beat her ditzy Republican opponent, Suzanne Terrell (R-LA) in 2002 in what was a literal catfight of a runoff election where both ladies publicly displayed their ignorance and intemperance. And Bush not so very closely, but closely enough, won Louisiana in both 2000 and 2004.

The problem for the Democrats is the migration of a possibly significant proportion of the population from an overwhelmingly Democratic region, in a state where they cannot afford to lose a single vote. Most of the people who have been relocated are poor and black, which form the base of any voters for any Democrat seeking to win stateside office. And if they really do leave in droves, statewide elections could turn decidedly against the Dems.

Granted, politics is a minor concern compared to cleaning up and restoring New Orleans, but the effect that this has will be nothing less than fascinating.

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