October 4, 2005


Population Loss Alters Louisiana Politics (JEREMY ALFORD, 10/04/05, NY Times)

The two recent gulf hurricanes may result in a significant loss of population for Louisiana, and state officials are now virtually certain that Louisiana will lose a Congressional seat - along with federal financing and national influence - after the 2010 census.

Having dislodged more than a million people in southern Louisiana alone, Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita are also likely to alter the state's political landscape, demographers and political experts say, reducing the domination of New Orleans over the State Legislature and increasing the influence of suburban and rural areas. [...]

Many politicians are also keeping a close eye on population movement within the state.

Within 48 hours after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, Baton Rouge became Louisiana's largest city, doubling to about 800,000 residents. Local officials are now trying to get a population survey up and running to seek federal aid.

Mr. Koepp said this population shift could actually be the early stages of the deterioration of New Orleans' long-term hold over the State Legislature. "If this holds true, there will be a significant political change," he said.

There are now 21 seats in the House and Senate that encompass or touch on Orleans Parish, of 144 total seats statewide.

But if the population fails to return to the parish in coming years, New Orleans may be confined to just a few seats in each chamber through redistricting, Mr. Koepp added. That could change the state's racial and partisan balance.

If evacuees from the Ninth Ward in New Orleans - a reliable bloc of 30,000 black voters that is traditionally easy to mobilize - choose suburban or rural areas over their urban roots in coming years, it could be a political blow to Democrats, said Roy Fletcher, a political consultant from Shreveport who helped elect former Gov. Mike Foster, a Republican.

"It would give a whole lot of a stronger foothold to Republicans in the Legislature and statewide," Mr. Fletcher said. "Louisiana has always been a swing state, a purple state that's both blue and red. You take the Ninth Ward out of that equation and you get a real shot of Republicans winning statewide office."

It's good to be Bobby Jindal.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 4, 2005 11:36 AM

I'd like to have the privilege of voting for Mr. Jindal for President some day.

Posted by: Rick T. at October 4, 2005 12:47 PM

The real question is, will it be Jindal/Steele or Steele/Jindal?

Posted by: Timothy at October 4, 2005 1:28 PM

Jindal did not distinguish himself during Katrina, blaming FEMA.

Posted by: Gideon at October 4, 2005 1:29 PM

"It's an ill wind. . .."

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 4, 2005 1:35 PM

Not sure how the Democrats of N.O. swamping Republican Baton Rouge will be a good thing.

Posted by: Michael at October 4, 2005 1:39 PM

Michael, I think the point is that without the corrupt infastructure in place, the 'get out the vote' scam will be unable to throw elections. Adding fake voters outside of the inner city "hive"
will be tricky.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at October 4, 2005 2:01 PM

Yeah, that'll hurt in a LA election.

Posted by: oj at October 4, 2005 2:17 PM

Isn't the point also that perhaps 10s of thousands or even 100s of thousands of NO voters, mostly Dem, won't come back to LA and remain dispersed in TX and elsewhere hurting the Dem vote in LA?

Posted by: AWW at October 4, 2005 2:46 PM

Robert Musil has a pretty good series on this, with a juddworthy headline:

Louisiana Democratic Party: Swept Away (By an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August)

Posted by: joe shropshire at October 5, 2005 1:34 AM