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Report reiterates Dems take hit on LA statewide elections

The latest report from the Louisiana Recovery Authority gives an idea of the magnitude of displacement of Louisiana citizens from the 2005 hurricane disasters – and, from an electoral perspective, the information contained doesn’t bring a lot of cheer if you are a politician with a last name like Landrieu.

This report does it best to come up with, among other things, a net migration total out of affected parishes and gives a good idea how many left the state. It shows really only three parishes had substantial out-migrations (in terms of proportion of population) from the 2005-06 period: Orleans estimated at 246,390, St. Bernard at 50,000, and Jefferson at 84,697. But if we want to know the electoral impact of this, we need to figure out how many left the state, and what are their partisan affiliations.

The report does give a rough guide to how many left the state from each parish as it tracked how many left the 18-parish area of study. However, it did not attempt specifically to find out whether those who left that area also left the state; i.e., an estimated 6,000 evacuees ended up in Caddo Parish. Still, for each parish it does give an estimate and for Orleans and St. Bernard does give some idea what proportion left the state.

It notes that 31 percent of total out-migrants from Orleans ended up in several large non-Louisiana counties and 23 percent in one of East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, or St. Tammany Parishes. Let’s assume half of the remaining 46 percent went out of state as well as the report notes federal government organized evacuations common from Orleans often went out of state.

For St. Bernard, only 9 percent identifiably went out of state while the “other” category comprised 36 percent. Since as is noted most St. Bernard evacuations were self-planned, let’s assumed only a third of that figure went out of state. Jefferson’s figures by destination were not released but let’s make the assumption for it that one-fourth total left the state.

Thus, for our purposes, the numbers that left the state from Orleans are 133,051, for St Bernard 10,500, and for Jefferson 21,174. Taking voting registration figures at the beginning of 2006 and assuming (probably understating the actual Democrat losses given poorer people were slightly more likely to have fled) people left their parishes in proportion to the partisan distribution, we can figure out numbers of black Democrats, white Democrats, and Republicans who have left (and will assume other races and other party voters are lost equally by the parties).

In Orleans, unadjusted for registration (because we are using total population figures), there would be 69,485 lost black Democrats. Adjusting for registration (only 55 percent of blacks were according to 2005 population figures), this means 38,328. For white Democrats and all Republicans (67.5 percent registered), the figures are 12,124 and 10,777. Using the same kind of procedure for St. Bernard and Jefferson, their figures are, respectively, 358, 3,482 and 1,457, and 1,543, 3,507, and 3,757. (Let’s also assume any other parish’s out-of-state migrants wash evenly between the major parties).

So, it all adds up to a net Democrat voter loss of 43,351. A final adjustment, which is that historically in governor’s races we can expect that, of those that don’t show up at the polls, roughly 2 percent of them have voted absentee and 40 percent of them wouldn’t have voted anyway, estimates that 25,143 fewer Democrat votes relative to Republican ones can be expected using these numbers (assuming party defectors from their registrations wash out). Since we are talking about 2006 data, the figure probably has gone down slightly, but also keep in mind that the estimates make assumptions that probably understate the Democrat losses.

Depending on your contest, such as if you’re Sen. Mary Landrieu or Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, this could be from 3.5 to 3.7 percent of your total vote disappearing relative to what you could have gotten. And given that Landrieu won her last contest by about 44,000 votes, and Landrieu won his without a runoff by about 77,000, this reality will have to be factored into theirs and all other statewide candidates’ calculations for the next several years.

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