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Monday, January 30, 2006
The Political Effects of Katrina
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 11:24 am

In this case, some specific effects on Louisiana party politics: Louisiana’s Democrats Try to Refocus Party:

Even before Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana Democratic Party was struggling in a conservative state skewing more Republican in its voting tendencies.


“I think the most polite term that you can use is disarray,” said Elliott Stonecipher, a Louisiana pollster and political analyst. “The party apparatus seems to have taken a knockdown, if not a knockout punch.”

Clearly there was already a significant shift going on within Louisiana party politics, and that shift was towards the Republican Party in statewide elections. Of course, party-linkages are especially weak in Louisiana, given its electoral system which is even more candidate-centric than the rest of the country.

Katrina has taken an already evolving situation and put it into additional turmoil. Yes, the federal response to the disaster redounds negatively to the Republicans, but given that Nagin and Blanco have not been stellar in their responses either does not help the Democrats-and those are politicians directly on the ground.

Of course, apart from any issues of blame-related politics, there is the cold hard fact that New Orleans was a Democratic stronghold, and its population is scattered to other states and many of those persons will not be coming back (certainly not by the 2006 elections).

Beyond the Katrina business, there are clear problems within the Louisiana Democratic Party, as evidenced by this quote:

Democratic Party spokesman Andrew Koneschusky said he thinks GOP gains in Louisiana are overstated and that Democrats can regain their footing by talking about the issues that unite them.

“I firmly don’t believe (Republicans) have the better product. I think in recent years they’ve had better marketing,” Koneschusky said.

First off, one would expect the Democratic Spokesman to think that the Democrats have the better product, so no surprise there.

However, and second, a focus on “marketing” isn’t going to help the Democrats in Louisiana. Indeed, from this I would formally posit Taylor’s Rule of Party Self-Denial which states that a party that asserts they are losing voters because of “marketing,” “PR,” or “we didn’t get our message out” will continue to lose voters until they realize that the reason they are losing voters is more complicated than the other party has “better marketing.”

Yes, the emphasis given to a set of issues matters, as does the way it is conveyed to the public. However, the candidates one offers matters, as do the basics of their message. Certainly one has to face up to the fact that Louisiana is making the same transition that the rest of the region has been making: away from Democratic dominance to two-party competition. And again: the candidate-centric nature of the Louisiana “primaries” does not foster strong parties. Certainly it is not a system which helps to produce the best candidates for the two parties.

Some other posts on the confluence between Katrina and electoral politics in LA can be found here:

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1 Comment »

  1. Katrina pulled the crurtain on a currupt party.

    Comment by c.v. — Monday, January 30, 2006 @ 12:06 pm

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