Conservative movement favorite Bobby Jindal cruised to victory in Saturday’s Louisiana gubernatorial election, winning 53% of the vote in a multi-person race, far ahead of the pack and avoiding a runoff election against a single opponent.
But Jindal got roughly the same amount of votes as four years ago, when he won only 48% of the vote and lost the governor’s race.
There were multiple factors at play. The Democratic leadership in the state suffered their share of the blame for Katrina and its aftermath, potentially strong opponents did not join the election, and the race was never close.
But we cannot ignore the new demographics of Louisiana, as conservative policies made it extremely difficult for African-American voters to come home.
The Politico’s report on Jindal’s victory notes:
Jindal’s victory heralds the GOP’s further ascendancy in Louisiana, particularly in the face of sweeping demographic changes after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Massive flooding sent many black Louisianans, who often vote Democratic, fleeing from the state to Texas, Utah and elsewhere. While the full political impact of the population shifts from the 2005 storms are still being revealed, it’s clear that Republicans are stronger than before.
One underlying reason for bright Republican prospects in Louisiana’s statewide elections Oct. 20 is the departure from the state of an estimated 173,000 African Americans, dependable Democratic voters, after Hurricane Katrina.
New Orleans is still 58 percent African American, according to a Brookings Institution survey, compared with 67 percent before the storm. But migration of blacks, mainly to Houston and Atlanta, lost the recent Democratic hard core in Louisiana.
The Institute for America’s Future August 2007 report, “Compounding Conservative Failure: Hurricane Katrina Two Years Later,” explained how conservative policies have intentionally displaced Katrina’s victims and distorted democracy. Here’s a flashback: