When thinking of the deep south, we are often reminded of its Republicanism, at least in the modern era. Louisiana, a state located between Texas (to the west) and Alabama (to the east), is certainly right amongst it in the American south. As a result, the state is predicted to go to Donald Trump and the Republican Party in this election. However, could a political landscape consisting of COVID calamity from the Trump administration, and nationwide social unrest, cause the solid south to splinter?
Becoming a member of the Union in 1812, Louisiana is famous for its largest city New Orleans, and the state-wide carnival known as Mardi Gras. Located in the centre of the American coast of the Gulf of Mexico, it is a state frequently under threat from natural disasters, most notably hurricanes. Amongst the most famous of these, was Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans and the surrounding area especially hard, leaving over 80% of the city underwater and much of the city’s architecture in ruins. Since the catastrophe left in Katrina’s wake, the city and state have recovered.
However, Louisiana still faces a number of major problems. For example, Louisiana is the murder capital of the U.S., with 11.37 homicides per 100,000 citizens. This may, in part, be due to the high levels of poverty and drug use in the state, rooted by the state’s low standards of education and healthcare. Louisiana is the 4th lowest state in terms of median household income, with only New Mexico, Mississippi and neighbouring Alabama below them.
Much like my previous articles on Alaska & Idaho and The Dakotas, in Louisiana, we find a state that is so solidly Republican, that no reliable polling has been conducted in the state. As a result, we will be looking at previous Presidential Elections, as well as other elected officials in the state, to gauge the chances of both Joe Biden and Donald Trump in this state, come November.
Current Elected Officials
Surprisingly, for a state in the deep south, Louisiana currently has a Democratic Governor. Elected in 2015, taking office in 2016, John Bel Edwards has beaten out Republican opposition twice. In the 2015 election, Edwards won by a fairly decent margin, beating David Vitter by a margin of 12.2%. However, in the 2019 election, Edwards beat Eddie Rispone, by a margin of 2.6%. That said, it is worth noting that the voter turnout increased drastically, with the Edwards’ total number of votes increasing by nearly 20% (127,545) from 2015 to 2019. Furthermore, opinion polling on Edwards’ Coronavirus handling has been wholly positive, with huge swathes of the electorate seeing the Democratic Governor’s response as positive. This can only bode well for the Biden campaign come November.
Away from state politics and onto the national level, we see a slightly different picture representative of Louisiana; 2 GOP Senators and 5 of 6 GOP House Representatives. In the Senate, John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy took over from a Democrat and a Republican in 2015 and 2017 respectively. In the House, a similar story. All districts, barring New Orleans, are occupied by Republicans, with New Orleans a healthy Democratic stronghold.
Louisiana is by no means a never blue state, there are instances in which a Democrat can seize power, but in the Trump era, with the way things have gone recently in the Senate, it looks difficult.
Results from 2016
The 2016 Election saw Donald Trump sweep the state of Louisiana convincingly winning by a 20% majority. With a dearth of opinion polling, it is difficult to conclusively see whether this humungous lead has diminished in Louisiana. However, polling in neighbouring Alabama does show Trump in a 14% lead over Joe Biden, and whilst it is virtually impossible to say that Alabama’s polling correlates with Louisiana’s, it does give us some idea of how southern states are viewing the Trump Presidency.
Does Trump Win Louisiana?
Given the sheer lack of interest from major polling firms in Louisiana, it seems almost certain that there will be no surprises from the state. The last time the state went blue was to re-elect Bill Clinton in 1996, since then, it has opted for every Republican nominee.
Louisiana is worth 8 Electoral College Delegates, which is no small total when compared with many of the north-western states that the Republicans tend to hoover up. The deep south is an important region for the GOP and the Trump campaign will certainly be counting on Louisiana remaining red this November. If Louisiana does flip blue, we could be witnessing quite the rout. Nevertheless, there are very few who predict that this election will be won by any sort of wide margin. From that, we can cautiously conclude that certain states will continue to follow their traditional voting pattern; of which Louisiana will be one. As a result, Louisiana will be added to the State Spotlight map as a safe Republican state.
The State Spotlight Map, As It Stands…
Democrats: Light Blue (State leaning Democratic), Medium Blue (State likely Democratic), Dark Blue (State almost certainly Democratic)
Republicans: Light Red (State leaning Republican), Medium Red (State likely Republican), Dark Red (State almost certainly Republican)
Other: Dark Gold (Uncertain which way a state may go), State Showing More Than One Colour (State awards EC Votes through mixed district system)