By Robert Bryan

Louisiana supported a losing candidate for the first time in 40 years in 2008, with Republican presidential candidate John McCain winning by nearly 19 percentage points. Democrat Bill Clinton was able to carry Louisiana in both 1992 and 1996, but Republicans have carried Louisiana in the past three elections.

Louisiana’s growing conservatism is at least partly attributed by some to an exodus of Democratic-voting African-American voters from the New Orleans area after Hurricane Katrina. Still, census data from 1990 to 2010 show that the percentage of African-Americans in the population actually grew from 30 percent to 32 percent.

In the race between Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Barack Obama, polls by Magellan Strategies and Clarus Research show Romney enjoying a comfortable double-digit lead.

Currently, Louisiana’s has seven representatives in the U.S. House: six Republicans and one Democrat. However, due to the loss of population after Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana lost a district and will only have six Congressional districts in the 2012 elections.  In three of the races, there is no Democratic opposition to the Republican incumbents, only Libertarian or unaffiliated opponents.

The only likely victory for Democrats will come from incumbent Rep. Cedric Richmond in the historically New Orleans-based  second district. The redrawing of that district extended it up the Mississippi River to Baton Rouge, adding more Democratic voters. It now contains all or part of six of the 10 parishes (counties) that voted for President Obama in 2008.

The new Congressional map has thrown two Republican candidates together in the new District three. The new district, which includes the Southwestern corner of the state, pits incumbent Jeff Landry against an incumbent from the now defunct seventh district, Charles Boustany Jr.  Landry finds himself at a disadvantage in the race as most of the electorate is made of Boustany’s constituents.


State and Local

The elections for governor and both houses of the state legislature were held in 2011.  Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal is now in his second term as governor. In both the state Senate and House, Republicans hold a slender majority.

Despite the lack of elections on the state level in 2012, there are nine ballot initiatives to be voted on by the citizens in November. The measures deal with diverse topics,  ranging from gun control to taxes and the forfeiture of retirement benefits by any government official who commits a felony.

While the ballot in November may lack fireworks, Louisiana is still in the midst of a political battle. Governor Jindal recently announced huge cuts for the public hospital and school systems, which has already resulted in the closing of a mental hospital and a state prison. Hospital cuts could eventually be as deep as 34.5 percent. This has drawn criticism from both parties, since the cuts were enacted between sessions and without legislative input.

The GOP governor has been campaigning for Romney in Colorado, Virginia and a variety of other states in the past weeks. Jindal was seen as a possible running mate for both Romney and John McCain, and flirted with running himself in 2012.


The General Political Atmosphere

For most of the state’s modern political history, the Democratic Party has dominated. There was no Republican Congressman from the state between 1891 and 1973.  In the last 30 years, however, the state has become increasingly Republican.


The Press and the State

Bayou Buzz: www.bayoubuzz.com

New Orleans Times-Picayune: www.nola.com

LAPolitics.com: www.lapolitics.com

The Independent: www.theind.com

Shreveport Times: www.shreveporttimes.com

Baton Rouge Advocate: theadvocate.com