Demographic shift aiding parish political strength

Wade McIntyre

Demographic changes that are expected to dramatically change political representation in different areas of Louisiana are a product of Katrina and other recent hurricanes that have hit Louisiana, according to demographer John Diez.

Speaking at a Rotary Club of Gonzales meeting last week, Diez said the trends currently in play were accelerated by about 30 years with the coming of the storms.

The foremost trend is a dramatic population shift from New Orleans to the I-10 and I-12 corridors.

That change, along with suburb growth in other parts of the state, “could essentially cancel out the New Orleans vote” in coming elections, Diez said.

When 2010 Census figures are released, the New Orleans district is projected to lose anywhere from 4.2 to 5 of its representatives in the state legislature due to the population drop brought about by Katrina.

Every area of the state will be out after the seats lost by New Orleans when the legislature begins its reapportionment process after the Census is out, Diez said.

While New Orleans has suffered great population loss, Ascension Parish on Interstate 10 and Livingston Parish on Interstate 12 have added a combined estimated  39,000 inhabitants between 2000 and 2009.

“This is enough for another congressional district” to be formed, Diez said, though it is by no means the only possibility legislators will consider when they begin fighting for survival in the reapportionment process.

Other possibilities include the combination of populous areas on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain, or areas around East Baton Rouge Parish.

The bottom line is that about 115,000 people shuttled out of the New Orleans District be voting in another congressional district, Diez said.