Search This Blog


Black votes for Jindal least of LA Democrats' worries

So just what was the black vote for Republican Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal, and how does the black vote play into the larger picture of Louisiana state politics going forward?

While one demographer asserts Jindal got about 10 percent of the vote, another demographer claims it was in the “low single digits.” There’s no real way to tell unless one polled a sample of the black electorate, but one common trick to find a figure is to take heavily black-majority precincts and use them as an estimator of vote.

So I did. There are 204 precincts across Louisiana where blacks outnumber whites at least 40:1 and blacks comprise at least 95 percent of the registered electorate (as of Oct. 1). Upon calculating the Jindal vote proportion overall in them (representing nearly 139,000 black registrants, or about a sixth of the state’s total), the figure was about 7 percent.

That splits the middle between 10 and low single digits, and is half of what I thought he would pull, but his real total probably is closer to 10 if not higher. This is for two reasons. First, early voting tends to attract upper-income people, blacks included, who were more likely to vote for Jindal (he had over 60 percent of that vote) which, because demographic information doesn’t exist that can be associated with these voters in state statistics, means that Jindal’s vote proportion among regular voters, including blacks, will be lower, although not by much.

More contaminating is that almost every of the 204 precincts studied is lower-income in nature. Obviously the majority of the state’s blacks don’t live in these and a significant portion is higher income. These blacks are more likely to vote Republican but there is no way to disaggregate their data.

(Interestingly, Republican-turned-independent candidate John Georges got over 27 percent of this estimated vote, most prominently in the New Orleans area, while the two major Democrats pulled about 61 percent. In other words, over a third of blacks voted for essentially Republican candidates.)

This technique also yields a statewide turnout total for blacks of 29 percent (one of the demographers estimated 35 percent which stands to reason since higher-income individuals which were disproportionately few in the precincts studied turn out at higher rates). Notably, estimated New Orleans black turnout was less than half the rates of Shreveport and Baton Rouge, both estimated at 39 percent while New Orleans scraped in at 17 percent. Even if these figures likely are low compared to the actual ones to be released by the state in a few days, New Orleans’ black turnout may not be even half of the 40 percent level of 2003.

These figures confirm the conventional wisdom that depopulation of New Orleans as a result of the hurricane disasters is affecting elections. That 23 percent drop represents about 42,000 black, mainly Democrat, voters. Combine this with non-estimated totals of depopulation of St. Bernard Parish, to a smaller degree Jefferson Parish (both which would be more Democrats than Republicans, although not as unbalanced as the Orleans losses), and turnout in this election probably is higher than in 2003.

Regardless, the preliminary numbers do suggest that 2005’s Katrina has made electoral life more difficult for Democrats at the statewide level.

No comments: