Nathan Stubbs

Katrina evacuees could play key role in Texas primary

by Nathan Stubbs

Nearly a quarter-million people evacuated Louisiana for Texas following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. While it is unclear how many are still residing in the lone star state, those who do now find themselves in a position to cast some crucial votes in this year’s Democratic presidential primary. The hotly contested race appears to be boiling down to next Tuesday’s big primary contests in Texas and Ohio. Reporting from Houston, The Washington Post finds many Louisiana transplants anxious to make their voices heard. The Post suggests Katrina evacuees could play a pivotal role in the election and that many appear to be leaning toward Sen. Barack Obama over Sen. Hillary Clinton.

"No one knows how many evacuees have registered to vote in Texas or how many will show up at the state's odd mix of primary and caucuses next week, but in interviews across this sprawling city almost everyone indicated an enormous desire to participate -- adding an unknown and potentially pivotal element in a race that polls show is deadlocked between Sens. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.).

Overwhelmingly African American, the evacuees are likely to bolster Obama's already strong support among blacks, who by some estimates could make up as much as 30 percent of the Democratic primary turnout in Texas, which is expected to top 1.5 million. In some urban precincts, evacuees could account for 5 to 10 percent of voters.

Many here had kind words for Clinton, but most members of the New Orleans diaspora said they will vote for Obama, with whom they share a sense of racial kinship and who they believe will not let their city's historically black neighborhoods die."