Katrina Exodus Could Change Political Mix

Most demographers predict that the population of the rebuilt New Orleans will be much different–whiter and richer, most notably–than the pre-Katrina makeup. That portends well for Republicans, despite the current view that the national Republican leadership did a poor early job in hurricane response. Of course, the poor and blacks have to go somewhere, which will have a ripple effect elsewhere.

Katrina Exodus Could Change Political Mix (AP)

Population shifts caused by the exodus of hurricane victims from the Gulf Coast could have ripple effects for years to come in Louisiana political races and perhaps beyond. How big depends on how many people stay away, which ones stay away and where they end up putting down roots. The early thinking is that the evacuees least likely to return to their homes in Louisiana may be the poorest — and thus, Democrats for the most part. That would hurt the party in a state where Republicans already were making inroads.

If the lion’s share of those leaving settle in Texas, that could work to the advantage of Democrats in President Bush’s home state.

“I’m believing that the greatest displacement occurs among those who are traditionally Democratic voters,” said Elliott Stonecipher, an independent political consultant from Shreveport, La. “Based on sheer demographics, those who are Republican voters have the wherewithal and, we believe, the will to go home and rebuild,” he said. Stonecipher sees the New Orleans area losing Democratic voters and a political network that was of great benefit to Sen. Mary Landrieu and other Democrats. “On Election Day there is a well-oiled machine that knows how to turn those votes out from specific neighborhoods and in specific ways,” Stonecipher said. Landrieu was elected in a 2002 runoff by a 52-48 margin, a difference of just 42,000 votes. New Orleans was the base of her support. “If that’s compromised, that could be a problem for her,” said John Maginnis, who publishes a political newsletter in Louisiana.

Landrieu is not up for re-election until 2008. Kathleen Blanco, the Democratic governor, who also won by a 52-48 margin, faces re-election in 2007. Ray Nagin, the Democratic mayor of New Orleans, is up for re-election in February. No one knows if the city could even hold an election by then.

Holding an election shouldn’t be that difficult. The problem is having a meaningful constituency by then.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2006, Campaign 2008,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. The article continues with the possible impact on Texas and Houston elections. Bob Stein is the go-to expert for most media outlets here.

    One factor that isn’t being considered is the sizable Vietnamese population that’s been absorbed into the city’s West side/Sharpstown. A lot of those folks haven’t registered or Domed themselves because of fears of racial tensions with the majority-minority present there.

    Not quite enough for a four-way White-Black-Hispanic-Asian mix, but enough to provide growth to an interesting part of this town’s culture.




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  2. Zsa Zsa says:

    I could hardly believe my ears!…BUT I actually heard someone say that the Mayor of New Orleans was the BEST Mayor they have had ever!…




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  3. Demosophist says:

    Well, who the heck knows? It could just as easily go the other direction as higher income whites, who can afford to relocate, do so. And low income people will get subsidization to rebuild. One thing that’s almost certain to happen is that the population of N.O. as a whole will shrink, which means it’ll be somewhat less critical in elections relative to the rest of the state.




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  4. DL says:

    The real problem is, while changing the political mix might help the politics of the situation, it does little to alleviate the root cause. (liberal plantation victim – mentality) It’s just redistributing the problem -like taking fish with a disease, (liberal plantation, victim – mentality )and moving them from a dirty tank to a clean one.




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  5. Texas will be able to absorb hundreds of thousands of new folks without much change. Louisiana will change quite a bit, meanwhile.




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  6. Demosophist says:

    The real problem is, while changing the political mix might help the politics of the situation, it does little to alleviate the root cause. (liberal plantation victim – mentality) It’s just redistributing the problem -like taking fish with a disease, (liberal plantation, victim – mentality )and moving them from a dirty tank to a clean one.

    I don’t know what “the problem is,” but I’m fairly certain it’s not just a “mentality” or an “attitude.” Systemic problems that have gone on for generations aren’t usually so easily diagnosed. As a general rule there’s something missing that isn’t recognized as being absent, because it isn’t associated with “the problem.” It’s not any of “the usual suspects.”

    People without capital have only their labor to sell, and it may just not be valued very highly. And there just may not be very much people can do about it, because labor just may not be worth very much. Not even “smart” labor.

    Fixing that requires more than an attitude adjustment, I’m afraid. I’m beginning to think we’re giving this far too little credit for its long term capacity to disrupt even the lives of the “haves.”

    Know what I’m saying?

    Well, of course you don’t. That’s the point.




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  7. Stormy70 says:

    Here is a chance for some who had no way out of their circumstances to start over in a new place. How many young gang members can now escape their lives of crime, and start over without having to explain it to fellow gang members. Some young men have no choice but to stay in a gang or get picked off for trying to leave. They now have a chance at a better life in a new place, without the peer pressure of the gangs. I believe some young men will seize their chance and build a productive life. I saw where one family decided to stay in Seguine, Tx, and the father told his son he did not have the peer pressure anymore to dictate how he (the son) dressed. The father then got himself a cowboy hat, and started looking for work.




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