Search This Blog


Second, Sixth Districts unlikley to have partisan change

On an earlier occasion I warned that superficial analysis and over-reliance on conjecture would create problems in understanding the political changes wrought by the 2005 hurricanes in Louisiana. Another example has presented itself.

An organization headed by 1980 independent presidential candidate John Anderson, FairVote, recently argued that the impact of the hurricanes could create competitive Second (around New Orleans) and Sixth (around Baton Rouge) District Congressional elections. But this analysis only incorporated subjective conjectures and superficial data. A look at more specific and rigorous data demonstrates this scenario to be rather far-fetched.

As concerns the Second, the simple fact of the matter is with almost half of the district comprised of black Democrats before Katrina, some extreme dislocations would have to occur for it to become competitive. This seems unlikely. Understand that prior to the storm the district had about 250,000 black registrants out of 405,000.

Two-thirds of the district is comprised of part of New Orleans. The city now estimates it has 156,140 people, and the work I’m doing for a paper presented later this week shows the majority of them are black (yes, I will summarize it all for a future posting). It’s not the 68 percent prior to the storm, but when this is broken down into voter registration totals of those present in Orleans that puts a bare minority as black Democrats who almost always vote Democrat.

Keep in mind the election is eight months away, people are still flowing into Orleans the majority of who are black, and that some whites will vote for a Democrat. In short, it is highly unlikely that a Democrat will not win there in the fall, and likely that this person will be black.

There’s only a marginally better chance that the Sixth District, represented by Republican Rep. Richard Baker for almost 20 years, could flip Democrat. The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center’s population estimates show this to be unlikely, reporting state population down about 385,000 in January. The population estimation data only shows an increase of 57,820 total individuals in the Sixth District. Using historical data and assuming they all are black Democrats from Orleans Parish, and further assuming all stay and change their registrations from Orleans, the 56.79 percent who would be registered would comprise 32,836 voters, adding to all black voters in the Sixth District would make the district only 38 percent black.

Further assuming that 82.21 percent of all blacks in the district would be black Democrats, adding to that the 28 percent who are white Democrats, and assuming everybody votes at the same rate their partisanship and other parties registrants split theirs, a Democrat could eke out a victory by about 5 percent of the vote. But historically, white Democrats are as likely to vote for a Republican candidate as they are to stay loyal to their party in the Sixth District’s contest, making a Democrat win, all other things held equal, an unlikely scenario – especially with the election ten months away from the date of this data and continued predicted movement from the Sixth District back to the Second.

I like to think that the intentions of FairVote on this issue were genuine. Its purpose is to suggest changes to electoral codes and systems to better reflect popular will in elections. However, they use their conclusions to support changes suggested by their conclusions, opening the possibility of why they were a bit too lax in their research methods was because such conclusions could assist their agenda. In any event, careless research will do nothing to increase our understanding of Louisiana’s post-hurricanes political geography.


Anonymous said...

It is a bit extreme to call this careless research. The FairVote report is careful about the conclusions it comes to.

In fact, the only conclusion it explicitly comes to is that there are serious one-person-one-vote issues in Louisiana now.

Regarding the analyses of the 2nd, 3rd and 6th districts, there are a few points to keep in mind.

We are explicit throughout the report that "conjecture on the part of the reader" is needed in the absence of more data. At the time we completed the report, the only data we could find were (1) the numbers of people still displaced from six parishes as of 13 October and (2) 31 October data on degree of home flooding by race and party.

I note you don't take (serious) objection to the 3rd district analysis. I think the conclusion there is: too close to call. Some sources also say there's been fresh inmigration that may help Melancon.

I would like to talk to you more about the source(s) of your data. It is definitely a more complete set than what I was able to obtain from the LA SoS office late in 2005.

I am surprised East and West BR parishes do not register more population increase. For months after the storm, news media were buzzing about populations doubling, then growing by a third, and all the concomitant economic boom in town.

- report co-author

Anonymous said...

with the history of this state; that leads me to one all important question, " is the one vote- one person" a live person or a dead person that has happened in the past and I dare you to say it hasn't!