Louisiana 2011 Legislative Analysis – Senate District 37

Incumbent – Buddy Shaw (R – Term Limited in 2019)

District Map

Senate District 37

Voting History


2008 President

  Current District New District
John McCain (R) 28654 (63%) 29612 (67%)
Barack Obama (D) 16293 (36%) 14157 (32%)
Others 504 (1%) 497 (1%)


2008 Senate

  Current District New District
Mary Landrieu (D) 20247 (47%) 18331 (43%)
John Kennedy (R) 22330 (51%) 23151 (55%)
Others 969 (2%) 947 (2%)


2010 Senate

  Current District New District
David Vitter (R) 18251 (63%) 19100 (66%)
Charlie Melancon (D) 9396 (32%) 8357 (29%)
Others 1410 (5%) 1331 (5%)


2010 Lt Governor

  Current District New District
Jay Dardenne (R) 17169 (59%) 17979 (63%)
Caroline Fayard (D) 11725 (41%) 10604 (37%)

 Current District

District 37 is one of several Shreveport-area Senate districts. It is equally balanced between Caddo and Bossier Parishes, with slightly more than half the voters living in Caddo Parish. It has a modest (24%) African-American voter population, with a slightly higher black percentage in Caddo. Specifically, the district contains most of Shreveport south of downtown and east of I-49, while the Bossier Parish portions are generally south of the I-220 loop and between the Red River and Barksdale Air Force Base.

With its moderate African-American population, its composition of settled “garden district” neighborhoods, and its modest but not overwhelming Republican lean, Senate District 37 bears a striking resemblance to House District 68 in the “garden district” of Baton Rouge, in terms of its demographics and its political performance.

Like House District 68, Senate District 37 once had competitive races that were typically won by Democrats able to garner enough support from more conservative precincts. Democrat Sydney Nelson represented the district from 1980 to 1992 with little opposition. When he retired, Democrat Greg Barro won a hotly contested runoff against a Republican, carrying Caddo overwhelmingly while losing Bossier. Senator Barro missed making the runoff in 1995, and the victor, Republican Max Malone, was elected 59-41% in the runoff. Senator Malone was closely pressed in his 1999 re-election race, narrowly defeating Democrat Don Pierson 51-49%. Pierson sought a rematch in 2003, but this time, Malone defeated Pierson in the primary with 60% of the vote.

Senator Malone was term-limited in 2007. Though four Republicans and a Democrat sought the seat, educator and former state representative “Buddy” Shaw overtook party switcher (and term limited state representative) Billy Montgomery 57-43% in the runoff, with 49% support in Bossier and 63% support in Caddo. It was thought that Montgomery’s party switch in anticipation of competing in the Senate race hurt his chances, as voters’ wanted newer faces in the Legislature that year. Plus, “Buddy” Shaw had strong conservative support from his tenure in the state House. Though Senator Shaw would have little problem being re-elected in 2011, he decided to retire, thus setting up another contested race in the district.

Proposed District

Redistricting was not much of an issue in this part of the state, as the district had 99% of the population needed for the “ideal” Senate district (Louisiana allows a 5% population variance when drawing districts). Still, some adjustments were made, with the bulk of the changes’ being made in Caddo Parish: several precincts with  93% black voter registration were removed, and affluent precincts in southeast Caddo Parish were added. These changes both reduced black voter registration from 24 to 20% and increased Republican voting performance in recent statewide races by about 4%. Republicans should not have much trouble holding onto the seat; the question is whether the victor will come from Caddo or Bossier Parish, since the percent of the vote coming from Caddo Parish remained at 53% both before and after reapportionment.