Louisiana 2011 Legislative Analysis – House District 12

Open Seat – (Incumbent is  Hollis Downs (R))

District Map



House District 12




Voting History

2008 President

  Current District New District
John McCain (R) 16530 (74%) 16058 (75%)
Barack Obama (D) 5641 (25%) 5124 (24%)
Others 291 (1%) 282 (1%)

2008 Senate

  Current District New District
Mary Landrieu (D) 7380 (35%) 6838 (33%)
John Kennedy (R) 13556 (63%) 13179 (64%)
Others 451 (2%) 432 (2%)

2010 Senate

  Current District New District
David Vitter (R) 10003 (71%) 9686 (72%)
Charlie Melancon (D) 3204 (23%) 2913 (22%)
Others 847 (6%) 814 (6%)

2010 Lt Governor

  Current District New District
Jay Dardenne (R) 10072 (72%) 9753 (73%)
Caroline Fayard (D) 3935 (28%) 3618 (27%)

Current District

Lincoln Parish is one of a few parishes in Louisiana whose economy is heavily dependent on higher education, as it is home to both Louisiana Tech and Grambling universities. Before the 1991 redistricting, House District 12 was wholly contained within Lincoln Parish, but Justice Department mandates to increase minority representation resulted in the precincts around Grambling being added to a reconstituted black majority district (District 11) to the immediate west. The remainder of Lincoln Parish (Ruston and the rural areas to the north and east) was added to Union Parish, and that combination of Lincoln and Union makes up House District 12.

Overall, the district has a modest and stable 20% (up from 19% in 2003) black voter registration. Because Louisiana Tech is more of a technical than a liberal arts university, the district’s portion of Lincoln Parish is strongly Republican and has a Republican voter registration plurality. Union Parish also typically supports Republicans, and overall, this is a Republican district in statewide and legislative elections.

Like its neighbor to the west, District 12 had its own turbulent politics a generation ago, and similarly ousted two consecutive Democratic incumbents in 1987 and 1991. The 1991 victor, Democrat Jay McCallum, was elected in 1991 thanks to strong support from Union Parish, then served for over a decade without opposition until he resigned his seat upon his election to a district judgeship. His retirement finally gave Republicans the opportunity to capture this conservative seat, and the victor, Republican Hollis Downs, breezed to re-election without opposition in 2003 and 2007. Though Rep. Downs was not term-limited until 2015, he chose not to seek re-election this year.

Proposed District

Redistricting in this part of the state was a simple process, because while this district was 11% over the population of an ideal district, District 10 to the immediate west was under populated. This meant that swapping several precincts in Ruston between the two districts put both districts within the acceptable population range. And just like the changes to District 10 next door gave Lincoln Parish a majority of the vote, the precinct swapping in District 12 conversely reduced the influence of Lincoln Parish from 50% of the vote to 47% (and the black voter registration slightly decreased, from 20 to 19%). So while a Republican will likely win this fall, it will be interesting to see whether the newly elected representative will come from Union Parish.