Hurricane Katrina reshaped political map of New Orleans, report says

May 01, 2006

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Hurricane Katrina's displacement of New Orleans' black residents has diminished their voice in the political process, according to new findings from Brown University sociologist John Logan. In a report presented at the "Searching for the Just City" conference in New York City this past weekend, Logan shows a shift in the racial composition of voters in New Orleans' first post-Katrina election and says there is decline in the political influence of black neighborhoods. The political impact of post-Katrina displacement is clear - the electorate is shrinking and transforming.

Fewer than half of the city's nearly half-million pre-Katrina residents have been able to return to permanent residency in the New Orleans. Despite the gravity of public policy issues facing the city, voter turnout, 108,000, was 15 percent below that of the previous mayoral race in 2002 and 43 percent below the votes cast in the 2004 Presidential election. Even this relatively depressed level of participation depended on the unprecedented number of absentee ballots that were cast, about 21,000.

Even more significant than the decline in the number of votes, Logan says, is the composition of the electorate, which he examined by comparing the 2006 primary to the previous two elections. Though black residents are still a majority of voters, he shows that black neighborhoods suffered a loss of six to seven percentage points in their share of the electorate, from about 63 percent in 2002 to 57 percent in 2006.

"To the degree that elected officials gauge their choices in terms of what constituency they will have to answer to in the future, the voice of black residents has been diminished," said Logan, director of Brown University's Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences (S4) Initiative. "Prior to Katrina, some of these neighborhoods felt they were in the political 'driver's seat'; now, they are at risk of getting shut out of the rebuilding process."

He cites areas like Gentilly, New Orleans East, and Bywater as areas experiencing declines in voting, commensurate with damage the neighborhoods suffered. The instance of the greatest de-cline in participation relative to 2002 was seen in the Lower Ninth Ward, an area where the com-bination of extensive flooding, loss of public infrastructure and government restrictions on entry have seriously delayed recovery efforts. Voter turnout there plummeted by 40 percent. In con-trast, predominantly white neighborhoods like Algiers, Uptown-Carrolton, the French Quarter and Garden District see their participation - and consequently their political influence -- on the rise.

The report also documents the "almost 180 degrees" shift of support for incumbent Mayor Ray Nagin. Though he led the field with about 38 percent of the vote, a runoff with Louisiana Lieu-tenant Governor Mitch Landrieu is scheduled for May 20. Unlike 2002, when Nagin led his op-ponent in white neighborhoods while lagging behind in black sections of the city, his core sup-port now is in the black community and he will be significantly handicapped by the diminished black vote.

A full copy of Logan's report is available at www.s4.brown.edu/katrina/report2.pdf
-end-


Brown University

Related Hurricane Katrina Articles from Brightsurf:

Living through Katrina associated with higher death rate among breast cancer patients
Breast cancer patients who endured Hurricane Katrina in 2005 have a 15% higher mortality rate than those patients not exposed to the storm, according to a University of Michigan researcher.

The long-term effects of disasters on seniors with diabetes: evidence from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
Older individuals with diabetes impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita had a 40% higher one-month mortality rate than those who lived in unaffected counties and a 6% increase ten years later.

Hurricane Katrina's aftermath included spike in heart disease hospitalizations
Hospitalizations for cardiovascular disease rose precipitously in Orleans and Jefferson parishes after Hurricane Katrina.

The aftermath of Katrina through the eyes of addiction treatment
Ten years post-Hurricane Katrina, experts have reflected on the aftermath through the eyes of addiction treatment professionals to become better prepared for future tragedies.

New Orleans greenery post-Katrina reflects social demographics more than hurricane impact
Popular portrayals of

Study: After Hurricane Katrina, personal debt fell for those worst hit -- but at a cost
After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans a dozen years ago, there was a sharp and immediate drop in personal debt among residents living in city's most flooded blocks, according to a new Case Western Reserve University study.

A rising tide of heart attacks followed Hurricane Katrina
New Orleans hospital admissions for heart attacks 10 years after Hurricane Katrina were significantly higher than they were before the storm.

NASA sees Hurricane Seymour becoming a major hurricane
Hurricane Seymour was strengthening into a major hurricane in the Eastern Pacific Ocean when the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite passed over it from space.

Louisiana Tech University uses underground radar to locate post-Katrina damage
An innovative underground radar technology developed at Louisiana Tech University is helping the City of Slidell in south Louisiana to identify and document underground infrastructure damage that had gone undetected in the months and years following Hurricane Katrina.

Early use of 'hurricane hunter' data improves hurricane intensity predictions
Data collected via airplane when a hurricane is developing can improve hurricane intensity predictions by up to 15 percent, according to Penn State researchers who have been working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Hurricane Center to put the new technique into practice.

Read More: Hurricane Katrina News and Hurricane Katrina Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.