Walter Pierce

Say what? La. leaning blue?

by Walter Pierce

According to a new Gallup party-identification poll, 47 percent of Louisiana residents identify themselves as either Democrat or leaning Democrat versus 41 percent for Republicans. It's a finding that doesn't seem to square with reality, at least not at the polls. Louisiana, after all, is about as red as they come: Our governor is Republican; half of our senators are GOP; six out of seven of our U.S. representatives are Republican; and Louisiana favored John McCain over Barack Obama by nearly 20 percentage points last November.

Gallup offers no state-specific analysis of the data, which comprises a tracking poll covering the first six months of 2009. Is it a shift in political sentiment in the Bayou State, or evidence that Democratic voters are just less likely than their Republican counterparts to go to the polls and vote? Is there another explanation for the GOP’s electoral dominance in Louisiana in recent years?

According to Gallup, the findings are essentially the same as the 2008 party-identification poll, with one exception: "Since Obama was inaugurated, not much has changed in the political party landscape at the state level — the Democratic Party continues to hold a solid advantage in party identification in most states and in the nation as a whole. While the size of the Democratic advantage at the national level shrunk in recent months, this has been due to an increase in independent identification rather than an increase in Republican support."

The Gallup poll doesn’t bode well for Republicans nationally: Only six states — Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Mississippi, Wyoming and Utah — have a majority of residents who identify themselves as Republican or leaning Republican, with Utah being the reddest (53 percent Republican - 30 percent Democrat). The most heavily leaning Democratic states are clustered in the northeast and Atlantic seaboard: Washington, D.C., is the bluest with a 77-12 Democratic majority, followed by tried and blue Massachusetts (60-26).

Overall, according to Gallup, 30 states are solidly Democratic with eight others leaning left; four states are listed as solidly Republican with one leaning right.