Jeremy Alford

Mary Landrieu: another Katrina victim?

by Jeremy Alford

The PBS news division has weighed in with a re-election analysis on Louisiana senior Sen. Mary Landrieu, and it isn’t altogether great news for the Democrat. In a story posted to the site of NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, it’s suggested that the 2005 storm season has uprooted the Bayou State’s political structure and will continue wreaking havoc during the ongoing fall elections.

“Demographic changes and a steady march to the right by the post-Katrina electorate in Louisiana” spells trouble for Landrieu, according to the PBS story. Cobbled together using several news sources, including coverage from The Independent Weekly, the story does manage to wrangle quotes from two cornerstones of Louisiana politics to drive its point home:

"Politically, we're starting to look a lot more like Mississippi and Alabama," T. Wayne Parent, a professor of political science at Louisiana State University and author of Inside the Carnival, Unmasking Louisiana Politics, told NPR.

"We used to pattern pretty well with Ohio or New Jersey in survey research," Parent said. "But now we pattern a little closer to our Southern states to the east."

It marks a huge shift for a state that gave the country radical populist Huey Long and went 100 years without a Republican governor and 120 years without a Republican in the U.S. Senate. ...

Landrieu's margins of victory in 1996 and 2002 came from Orleans Parish, where voter numbers have dropped since Hurricane Katrina, according to The Times-Picayune. The storm's destruction caused severe damage to many Democratic-leaning neighborhoods. Many of those residents eventually relocated, mostly outside of Louisiana.

In total, about 50,000 registered Democrats left New Orleans since hurricanes Katrina and Rita, John Maginnis, who writes the newsletter LaPolitics, told NPR.

GOP state Treasurer John Kennedy, Landrieu’s opponent, manages to land a few sentences in the piece as well, but it’s mostly a snapshot of the challenges posed to Landrieu. For Louisiana residents who have been following Katrina’s and Rita’s impact on local politics, the story treads old material.

Still, it offers a reminder of just how regionalized this race is going to become in the next few weeks. Tomorrow's Independent Weekly publishes a cover story, “Battle for Acadiana,” that peels back the layers of this regional warfare and offers insight into where the proverbial rubber will hit the road.