State of Irrelevance: Louisiana and presidential politics

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Republican National Convention (Photo credit: NewsHour)

Republicans are gathering in Tampa to nominate Mitt Romney for president. And while the election will be hard fought, Louisiana will mostly be left out.

As one of the most reliably Republican states, Louisiana no longer matters in presidential politics.

Over the last ten presidential contests, Louisiana has only three times voted for the Democratic nominee. And those Democrats – Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton – were southerners.

The rest of the time, we’re firmly in the GOP column, colored red on the national map from day one.

That extreme reliability isn’t good for us.

Major party nominees never advertise on our airwaves, nor do they visit us, unless they come to raise money or speak to a national convention. We get no love.

That silence and inattention may be depressing our voter participation. In 2008, for example, the major battleground states all had higher voter turnout rates than Louisiana.

When we have a Republican president, the fact that we’re a strong red state doesn’t earn us the special attention usually showered on a swing state. And Democratic presidents know that we are so completely Republican that no amount of special attention will ever put us into play.

No matter the president, we’re ignored (unless we have a hurricane or a major oil spill).

Our dead-certain reliability in national politics may be one reason Mitt Romney passed over Gov. Bobby Jindal in choosing Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate.

Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin is in play. Louisiana isn’t.

So, as GOP delegates convene this week, you won’t see the Louisiana delegation on the front row in the Tampa convention hall. They’ll probably be in the back of the room, just as irrelevant at their convention as their state is in national politics.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

English: Electoral college map for the 2012, 2...

Electoral college map for the 2012, 2016 and 2020 United States presidential elections. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Abolishing the Electoral College – in which states are winner-take-all propositions – would eliminate the whole notion of swing states and make every vote count. That would make your vote and mine just as valuable as those in the big battleground states of Ohio or Florida

But that would take an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

However, Louisiana doesn’t have to amendment the Constitution.

Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution says, “Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors equal to the whole number of senators and representatives to which the state may be entitled in the Congress . . . .”

In other words, our legislature could, on its own, vote to apportion our electoral votes based on the percentage of the vote each candidate receives. In fact, the Louisiana Legislature considered and rejected a similar proposal in its recent session.

Most Republicans opposed tinkering with our electoral vote process because it might result in two or three of our electoral votes going to the Democratic nominee.

But that small change might make us relevant again.

We only have eight electoral votes, but if Democrats had the chance to pick up two or three votes, both parties might start paying us more attention.

When the Republican and Democratic parties think a poor state like Louisiana is worthy of their attention, that’s not a bad thing.

What’s bad is when they continue taking us for granted.

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4 Responses to State of Irrelevance: Louisiana and presidential politics

  1. Ian McGibboney says:

    I live in Missouri in 2008, and the major (and minor) candidates were there all the time. That was far more interesting. And I felt like my vote might count there. Ultimately it didn’t, but here I know it won’t.

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  2. Peter says:

    I have contemplated about this same issue for a while. Firstly, there is nothing wrong with a state being red or blue a couple of elections. The problem is when it’s a solid red or blue. This is a huge turn off for the rest of electorate in that state. More so, if there are failed policies, the same politicians with the same platform will be voted in every time. I doubt that’s how democracy was envisioned.
    To a broader point, this speaks to how well people are informed. I doubt most American’s know that there was never a declaration of war on Iraq though it was called a war. My suggestion is to rally more independents to get elected because they don’t subscribed to a particular ideology.

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    • Gene Sands says:

      Peter – there hasn’t been a formal declaration of war since FDR got one from The Congress on December 8, 1941.

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    • SL says:

      “Subscribing” to an ideology has to be the worst possible way to become associated with one.

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