Jim Beam column: Georgia is electing Democrats

Published 9:51 am Saturday, December 17, 2022

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“… Nationwide, while the rate varies by state, college-educated white voters register as Democrats at higher rates than non-college educated white voters. Black voters register Democratic at the same rate, regardless of education level.”

Louisiana has voted Republican in every presidential election since 2000, the news organizations said. The state’s two U.S. senators and five of its six U.S. representatives are Republicans. Efforts to add another Black member to the House delegation was stalled by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Republicans control over two-thirds of the state Senate with 27 GOP members and 12 Democrats. They are only one member shy of controlling two-thirds of the House. There are 69 Republicans, 33 Democrats, 2 independents, and there is 1 vacancy in New Orleans at the moment.

Then, there are the voters. Louisiana has 3 million voters, 39.3% percent of them Democrats, 33.5% Republicans and 27.2% other parties or no party. Many of the white Democrats have been voting for Republicans.

Of the 3 million voters, 62.9% are white, 31.2% Black and 5.9% others.

Edwards got tired of Democrats running in two primaries and a general election while Republicans often only nominated someone to oppose the winner of the Democratic primary.

The election of Republican Dave Treen as governor in 1980 gave the GOP another major boost. However, Fox8 and  Verite said from about 1990 to around 2015 or so, Louisiana was a two-party state.

Gov. John Bel Edwards is a Democrat and was first elected in 2015, but Fox 8 and Verite call him an outlier because he is a conservative, opposes abortion rights and is a Second Amendment supporter of gun rights. Edwards can’t run for a third term in 2023, and it is expected a Republican will replace him.

Why has the Democratic Party that once had solid control of Louisiana politics for a long time fallen on hard times? Those news sources said there is now a general feeling that the national Democratic Party has drifted too far to the left on traditional cultural issues. Those include civil rights legislation, race relations, affirmative action, abortion, LGBTQ rights, church vs. state issues and gun  rights.

White voters have made the difference. They have left the Democratic Party. Between 1990 and 2015, Democrats could depend on about 40% of the white vote. Combined with 90 percent of the Black vote, they could win elections.

Fox 8 and Verite said while the Black vote has remained stable for Democrats, the white vote has dropped sharply. They said Edwards in his 2019 re-election campaign won because he received 33% of the white vote and 95% of the Black vote.

What has happened in Louisiana has happened in all states of the Deep South, but with one exception. In 2020, President Biden won Georgia and two Democratic U.S. senators were elected.

It wasn’t just because of the Black vote, Fox8 said. Georgia is 32% Black, but Louisiana is roughly the same at 33% Black. Georgia has more college graduates than any other Deep South state and Atlanta is one of their major attractions. Census data shows college graduates make up about 32% of the Georgia adult population. College graduates make up about 25% of Louisiana adults.

Both news sources said for the short term, unless the Democratic Party can figure out how to attract more college graduates, Louisiana will remain a red state. However,  Democratic candidates can still do well in areas where the Black population is heavily concentrated.

Louisiana doesn’t appear to be anywhere close to a two-party state at the moment, and an area election is solid proof.

Republican Stuart Moss of Sulphur won the District 33 seat in the state House at a Nov. 6,  2018, special election.  He defeated Democrat Les Farnum 54-to-39 percent. Farnum changed his registration to Republican and he defeated Moss 56-to-44% on Oct. 12, 2019.

Not everyone will agree that college-educated citizens help elect Democrats, but it is one possible explanation. However, there is no question that a strong two-party system does provide a better check-and-balance system of government.