Every 10 years, states are required to redraw their Congressional and legislative boundaries to reflect population changes that have occurred in the previous decade. Louisiana’s legislature participated in this exercise in the spring of 2011. There was definitely a time pressure to get a plan passed and implemented: Louisiana (and a handful of other states) was holding legislative elections that fall for all 144 legislative (105 in the House, 39 in the Senate) districts.
The next reapportionment is at least 8 years away, and the first post-reapportionment elections will be held in 2023, so the legislature has more time to redraw its districts. Still, since those initially elected in 2011 will likely be around to vote for the next reapportionment plan, it would not hurt if legislators had an idea in the interim how much their districts have changed since the 2010 Census. Even though interim Census estimates are periodically done, they typically are performed at the statewide and/or the parish level – NOT at the legislative district level. We would like to estimate population growth at the legislative district level, which means that we have to examine population/demographic changes in each of Louisiana’s (over 4000) voting precincts. From there, we can make projections about what we think will happen during the 2020 reapportionment.
The Census was performed using population figures as of April 1, 2010. While we do not have updated population data at the precinct level, we do have what we believe is a good proxy: voter registration figures from that month. We also have the precinct level voter registration figures for January 2013. Given the change in voter populations in the 33 months since April 2010, we can then project ahead to April 2020 (when the next Census will be taken) by assuming that population will increase at the same rate that it has since April 2010.
Granted, this is not a “crystal ball”: no one in July 2005 could have foreseen the devastating impact that Hurricane Katrina would have on the parishes in and around New Orleans. As a result of that extraordinary event, the population changes that resulted reverberated all the way to the 2011 reapportionment.
At a statewide level, there has been an uptick in minority voter registration since April 2010: black voter registration has increased from 30.6 to 30.9%, and “other” voter registration (Asians, Hispanics, etc.) has increased from 4.4 to 4.6%. Where have the racial changes been most substantial?
Increase in black voter registration:
- House District 101 (held by Ted James (D-Baton Rouge): From 62 to 67%, or a 4.3% increase
- House District 16 (held by Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe): From 59 to 62%, or a 3.5% increase
- House District 103 (held by Ray Garofalo (R-Meraux): From 17 to 20%, or a 3.3% increase
- House District 69 (held by Erich Ponti (R-Baton Rouge): From 15 to 18%, or a 3.2% increase
- House District 65 (vacant, was held by Clif Richardson (R-Central): From 15 to 18%, or a 3.1% increase
Decrease in black voter registration decrease (all due to post Katrina demographic changes in New Orleans):
- House District 93 (held by Helena Moreno (D-New Orleans): From 65 to 59%, or a 5.8% decrease
- Senate District 5 (held by Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans): From 56 to 51%, or a 4.3% decrease
- House District 91 (held by Walt Leger III (D-New Orleans): From 64 to 60%, or a 3.9% decrease
- House District 99 (held by Wesley Bishop (D-New Orleans): From 82 to 78%, or a 3.4% decrease
- House District 98 (held by Neil Abramson (D-New Orleans): From 28 to 25%, or a 2.9% decrease
“Other” voter registration increase:
- House District 79 (vacant, was held by Tony Ligi (R-Metairie): From 12 to 13%, or a 1.0% increase
- House District 92 (held by Tom Willmott (R-Kenner): From 12 to 13%, or a 0.9% increase
- House District 85 (held by Bryan Adams (R-Terrytown): From 10 to 11%, or a 1.0% increase
- Senate District 10 (held by Danny Martiny (R-Kenner): From 10 to 11%, or a 0.9% increase
- House District 80 (held by Joe Lopinto (R-Metairie): from 8 to 9%, or a 0.8% increase
- House District 103 (held by Ray Garofalo (R-Meraux): from 8 to 9%, or a 0.8% increase
Note: the New Orleans metropolitan area has a noticeable Asian and Hispanic population. Furthermore, the Hispanic population increase was partially due to the perceived economic opportunities from the rebuilding of the area after Hurricane Katrina.
In addition to the demographic changes that have occurred since April 2010, we are also interested in what we think will happen when the next reapportionment has to be done. Therefore, we also looked at the increase in the voter population for all 144 legislative districts since the 2010 Census. From that perspective, these are the legislative districts that have seen the latest percentage increases in their voter populations, as well as what we think that means for the 2020 Census:
- House District 59 (held by Eddie Lambert (R-Prairieville): 10% increase since 2010, projected to increase 38%
- House District 95 (held by Sherman Mack (R-Albany): 9% increase since 2010, projected to increase 32%
- House District 43 (held by Stuart Bishop (R-Lafayette): 9% increase since 2010, projected to increase 31%
- Senate District 18 (held by “Jody” Amedee (R-Gonzales): 8% increase since 2010, projected to increase 30%
- House District 31 (held by Nancy Landry (R-Lafayette): 8% increase since 2010, projected to increase 29%
Similarly, these are the five legislative districts that have seen the largest decrease in their registered voter count since April 2010:
- House District 99 (held by Wesley Bishop (D-New Orleans): 23% decrease since 2010, projected decrease of 83%
- House District 97 (held by Jared Brossett (D-New Orleans): 15% decrease since 2010, projected decrease of 55%
- House District 93 (held by Helena Moreno (D-New Orleans): 13% decrease since 2010, projected decrease of 47%
- Senate District 3 (held by JP Morrel (D-New Orleans): 13% decrease since 2010, projected decrease of 47%
- Senate District 4 (held by Ed Murray (D-New Orleans): 13% decrease since 2010, projected decrease of 47%
It’s worth noting that in light of the massive population losses coming from the New Orleans metropolitan area after Hurricane Katrina, there were about 46K voters in Orleans Parish who were determined not to be valid voters, and they were removed from the voter rolls in early 2011 (after the 2010 Census was conducted). This voter purge resulted in a single month decrease of 17% in the Orleans Parish voter count, and that sudden drop has only partially been offset in the two years since then. Because of the timing of this voter purge, there will be some distortion in these population loss projections.
Projected seat gain/loss
Given the changes in the voter counts that have occurred since April 2010, what do we think will happen in the 2020 reapportionment cycle?
Using the projections from the change in voter population since April 2010, we project that in 2020, the Baton Rouge area will gain three state house seats, while the Lafayette and Shreveport areas would gain a seat each. These five seats gained would come at the expense of metro New Orleans: they would lose a projected five House seats.
The changes would be less substantial in the state senate: metro Baton Rouge would gain a seat, and that gain would be offset by a loss of a senate seat from metro New Orleans.
Did the “voter purge” affect the population projections/legislative seat allocation in Metro New Orleans? Not as much as you would think. If we were to remove the effect of the voter purge and focus ONLY on changes in voter population since January 2011 (when the voter purge occurred), New Orleans would only lose four (as opposed to five) House seats, which means that the Baton Rouge metro area would only gain two (instead of three) state House seats. There would be no change in the state senate allocations.
Projected seat gain/loss – statewide maps
Projected seat gain/loss – regional maps