Louisiana Redistricting: Solidly Republican for the Next Ten Years?

Today’s post concludes our weeklong series on 2011 Congressional redistricting in Louisiana by looking at possible redistricting scenarios.

There will be many different plans for Louisiana redistricting in 2011.  Many different maps will be drawn that divide up the districts in many ways.  While Democrats have some power in the state legislature because they control the Senate, their power in the redistricting process will be limited by Republican Governor Bobby Jindal’s veto power, the close Republican-Democrat margin in the Louisiana House of Representatives, and the increasingly Republican trend of the state.  Republican Congressmen Steve Scalise (1st district) and Charles Boustany (7th district) seem safe because demographics and geography make these districts hard to turn Democratic.  Additionally, the large population sizes of these districts make them difficult to eliminate in 2011.  Despite John Fleming’s close 2008 election, his 4th district will likely remain a Republican district after 2011 because there are few Democratic strongholds close by.  Additionally, the large geographic size of the district makes it unlikely that it will be eliminated.  The 2nd district, which encompasses New Orleans and is historically majority African American, is currently represented by Republican Joseph Cao, but it  is likely to return to the Democratic column in 2010.  And in the 2011 redistricting, the 2nd district will probably be extended either into the 3rd district or towards Baton Rouge to make it a safe Democratic district in the future.  The Voting Rights Act will likely require it to remain a majority African American district if possible.  If Congressman Cao wins reelection in 2010, Republicans in the legislature will try to redraw the district to help him continue winning in the future.  But the most likely outcome is for the 2nd district to be a solid Democratic district in the future.

That makes three safe Republican districts and one safe Democratic district.  However, there are three districts left that must be combined into two.  Much will depend on what happens to Baton Rouge as it is close geographically to the 5th, the 6th (where it currently is), and the 3rd

Louisiana State Capitol
Louisiana State Capitol

districts.  The Democrats in the legislature might try to expand either the 5th or the 3rd district to include part or all of Baton Rouge and possibly turn that district Democratic.  Yet, that plan would likely be vetoed by the Governor.  The Democrats could also try to expand the 6th district to the Southeast toward New Orleans to make the 6th a Democratic district.  Again, the Governor would likely veto this plan.  Another possible scenario is for the 3rd district to be divided among several districts–the 2nd, 5th, 6th, and 7th districts could all be given a part of it.  Whoever wins the 3rd district in 2010 will be a freshman and will have the shortest tenure among the state’s Congressional delegation, so dividing up the 3rd district could be a solution.

As this analysis has demonstrated, there are many different scenarios for Congressional redistricting in Louisiana in 2011.  Given the Republican trends in the state and the Republican Governor’s veto, Republicans could plausibly draw districts that would create five Republican seats and one Democratic seat for the next decade.  At the same time, the Democrats in the state legislature will try as hard as they can to prevent that scenario and gain another Democratic seat.  Although the final outcome is uncertain, the surest prediction is that the fight over redistricting is going to be partisan and ugly.

*A few notes on statistics.  Population numbers and demographic numbers (and percentages) that are listed as “current” or “2008” are from the 2008 American Community Survey by the Census while 2004 or 2005 numbers are from the 2004 and 2005 American Community Surveys respectively.  While these numbers are very recent, the American Community Survey does have a larger margin of error than the traditional census conducted every 10 years.  Learn more about the American Community Survey on the Census Bureau’s website.

All numbers (both demographic and campaign financial data numbers) are rounded down to the nearest hundred for simplicity.

2008 and 2004 Presidential election results for each district are from the 2010 Almanac of American Politics by the National Journal Group.

Picture of Capitol building courtesy of Lonnie P

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