The political balance in Louisiana was heavily affected by the post-Hurricane Katrina departure from New Orleans. Heavily Democratic New Orleans lost some 1/3 of its population. The overall effect reduced the Democrats' base of support in the state and turned Louisiana into a Republican-leaning state thereafter. New Orleans remained Democratic, electing Mitch Landrieu as mayor in February 2010. In the 2008 elections, Louisiana sent a mixed result, with the election of U.S. Senator John McCain for President and the reelection of Democratic U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu. The other senator, at the time, was Republican David Vitter.

Since that election, Republicans have rapidly come to control nearly every federal and statewide office. Both US Senators, Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, are Republicans. Republicans also hold five of the six U.S. Representative seats from Louisiana. Every statewide office is held by a Republican, and both chambers of the state legislature are majority Republican. By contrast, in 1960, not a single Republican served in either house of the Louisiana legislature. The first Republicans to serve in the legislature since Reconstruction were not elected until 1964, and both—Morley A. Hudson and Taylor W. O'Hearn—came from Shreveport.

In 2010, several Democrats switched parties bringing the statehouse under Republican control. In 2011, the special election victories of Fred Mills and Jonathan Perry switched the balance of power in the state senate, leaving Republicans in control of the state legislature for the first time since Reconstruction. Also, the party switch of Attorney General Buddy Caldwell caused the Republican party to control every statewide office. However, this was broken in 2015, when Democrat John Bel Edwards won the governor's race.

Republicans won the first Senate seat since Reconstruction in 2004, with the election of David Vitter. He became the first popularly elected Republican Senator as well. In 2014, Republicans won both Senate seats for the first time since 1872.

Louisiana primary


Since 1977, state elections in Louisiana have used the two-round system. The first round of voting has become known as a jungle primary or Louisiana primary,[1] as it serves a similar role to primary elections in other states. On election day, all candidates for the same office appear together on the ballot, often including several candidates from each major party. If one candidate receives over half of the vote in the first round, that candidate wins outright. Otherwise, the top two candidates, regardless of partisan affiliation, proceed to a runoff election.

This primary system is used for state, parish, municipal, and congressional races,[2] but is not used for presidential elections.[2] Louisiana's unique primary system was instituted in 1975 by Democratic governor Edwin Edwards.[3] Until 1997, the open primary election was held in October, meaning that no election would be held in November if the leading candidate won over 50 percent of the vote in October.[3] Between 2008 and 2010, federal races did not use the jungle primary system.[4][5]

Though strictly speaking it occurs during the general election and so is not a primary election, the general election serves much the same role as a primary if no candidate wins a majority.[6] If no candidate wins a simple majority in the first round, there is a runoff one month later between the top two candidates to determine the winner. This system is also used for United States Senate special elections in Mississippi and Texas, and all special elections for partisan offices in Georgia.[7] It is also used for municipal elections in Chicago.[citation needed]

In May 2005, Louisiana passed a law moving the primary back to October, with provisions intended to follow federal law. In June 2006, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco signed Senate Bill No. 18[2] (later Act No. 560[3]) into law, which took effect in 2008 and returned Congressional races to the closed primary system.

In 2010, the legislature voted to revert federal elections to the nonpartisan blanket primary system with the passage of House Bill 292, which was signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal on June 25, 2010.[8] Since Louisiana's primary is virtually identical to the Washington state primary system, which was upheld by the US Supreme Court in Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party (2008), it appears to satisfy constitutional concerns.[9]

Louisiana will revert to semi-open party primaries for Congressional elections starting in 2026, with unaffiliated voters allowed to choose which primary they wish to vote in.[10]

Comparison with other voting models


The Louisiana primary is a two-round system. The other popular version is the nonpartisan blanket primary (or top two primary) currently used in Washington and California. In both models, all candidates regardless of party identification run against each other in the first round, and (usually) the top two run against each other in a second round. The differences are:

  • In the top two system there is always a second round even if the leader gets a simple majority.
  • The first round in the Louisiana primary is held on or near election day in November and the runoff is about a month later. The top two primary holds the second round on election day in November and holds the first round months earlier.



The only party labels originally permitted under Louisiana law were Democratic, Republican, and No Party; however, as of 2008, candidates may take the identity of any "registered political party".[11] The primary has been used in statewide elections since 1975. The system was designed by then-Governor Edwin Edwards after he had to run in two grueling rounds of the Democratic Primary in 1971 before facing a general election against a well-funded and well-rested Republican, Dave Treen. (Treen was elected governor under the new system in 1979, defeating five major Democratic candidates.)[citation needed]

Louisiana is one of only five states that elects its state officials in odd-numbered years. Louisiana holds elections for these offices every four years in the year preceding a presidential election.[citation needed]

Louisiana is one of 18 states with separate elections for governor and lieutenant governor, a process that has resulted in governor-lieutenant governor pairs from different parties.

Between the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Shelby County v. Holder (a 2013 Supreme Court case), changes to Louisiana election law required preclearance with the United States Department of Justice.[12] In a 2020 study, Louisiana was ranked as the 24th hardest state for citizens to vote in.[13]

See also



  1. ^ Brinlee, Morgan. "Louisiana Has Something Called A Jungle Primary". Bustle. Retrieved 2018-10-02.
  2. ^ a b Barrow, Bill (8 February 2011). "Department of Justice gives approval to Louisiana's open primaries". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  3. ^ a b Mooney, Chris (13 November 2002). "Why Does Louisiana Have Such an Odd Election System?". Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  4. ^ "Louisiana Law Search". Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  5. ^ [1] Archived 2010-08-12 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Primary Elections by State: Louisiana". Retrieved 2018-05-17.
  7. ^ "2017 Georgia Code :: Title 21 - Elections :: Chapter 2 - Elections and Primaries Generally :: Article 14 - Special Elections and Primaries Generally; Municipal Terms of Office :: § 21-2-540. Conduct of special elections generally". Justia Law. Retrieved 2018-10-02.
  8. ^ "2010 Regular Session - Instrument Information". Archived from the original on 2010-08-12. Retrieved 2010-11-05.
  9. ^ "Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2010-01-07. Retrieved 2008-03-21.
  10. ^ "Louisiana reshapes primary system for congressional elections". AP News. 2024-01-20. Retrieved 2024-06-17.
  11. ^ Political Party Registration Archived April 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Liptak, Adam (25 June 2013). "Supreme Court Invalidates Key Part of Voting Rights Act". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  13. ^ J. Pomante II, Michael; Li, Quan (15 Dec 2020). "Cost of Voting in the American States: 2020". Election Law Journal: Rules, Politics, and Policy. 19 (4): 503–509. doi:10.1089/elj.2020.0666. S2CID 225139517. Retrieved 14 January 2022.