We're taking a look at the impact of Republican gerrymanders on the 2016 congressional elections. Read why in our introductory post, and click here for the full series.
Republicans gained control over the redistricting process in Louisiana in 2011 for the the first time since Reconstruction. They used this new power to push through a ruthless gerrymander that packed as many Democrats as possible into one heavily black and Democratic district, taking the previously New Orleans-based 2nd District and stretching it all the way to Baton Rouge. That helped make all the neighboring seats heavily white and staunchly Republican. Although Democrats captured the Baton Rouge-based 6th District once last decade, the current Republican gerrymander worked flawlessly to lock in five Republicans and one Democrat ever since 2012.
Our nonpartisan proposal as seen above would undo the Republican gerrymander by once again creating a 2nd District located wholly around New Orleans and turning the 6th District into a plurality-black seat centered on Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and the Mississippi River parishes (see here for a larger version). Our map is far more compact, reflects natural communities of interest, and even creates an additional majority-minority district. Given a recent federal court ruling that forced Virginia to draw just such another majority-minority district under similar circumstances in 2016, Louisiana too arguably should have been forced to do so under the Voting Rights Act and the Equal Protections Clause.
Republican Rep. Garret Graves’ 6th District backed Donald Trump by a punishing 65-31 under the existing map, but our nonpartisan version of the 6th supported Hillary Clinton by 55-41 instead. Our version of the 2nd remains safely Democratic too, having favored Clinton by 60-35. While it would become plurality white, enough white Democrats would support black voters’ candidate preference to consistently elect black Democrats like Rep. Cedric Richmond.
This map would almost certainly guarantee that another Democrat would win one currently GOP-held seat. Importantly, it would double the number of black representatives in America’s second blackest state, giving Louisiana a one-third black delegation exactly proportional to African Americans’ one-third share of the state’s population.