ANALYSIS — From a new Democratic district in Louisiana to a Democratic opportunity in Arkansas, there was the potential that two reliably Republican states would provide some intrigue in the fight for the House majority. Yet, when the final congressional maps were drawn, the status quo prevailed.
Democrats were convinced that a second Black opportunity district, situated in northern Louisiana, was essential to bring the state into alignment with its Black population. That district was never created, however, and while litigation over the map is ongoing, it is unlikely to result in any changes, especially this election cycle. In Arkansas, meanwhile, Democrats held out hope that Little Rock would be contained to a single district, giving them a takeover opportunity. But that didn’t happen either.
That means the status quo across both states is likely preserved for another decade. Republicans have a 5-to-1 advantage in Louisiana’s House delegation and control all four of Arkansas’ House seats. All 10 races are rated as Solid for one party in the upcoming 2022 elections.
While neither state has voted Democratic for president since former Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton was reelected in 1996, the House delegations have been more balanced.
A dozen years ago, three of four members of the Arkansas delegation were Democrats, including Marion Berry, Vic Snyder and Mike Ross. Republican John Boozman was the only GOP House member prior to the 2010 elections.
Going further back a couple of years, Louisiana’s House delegation had four Republicans and three Democrats: Don Cazayoux, Charlie Melancon and Bill Jefferson. They all subsequently lost, and Democrats have been able to recapture only the 2nd District, first with Cedric Richmond and now with Troy Carter.
Even though Republicans have dominated the Louisiana delegation in the past decade, there’s been considerable turnover. GOP Whip Steve Scalise is the only Republican in the state’s delegation who was serving 10 years ago.
Overall, Republicans now hold nine of the 10 districts across both states, yet that understates Democrats’ political challenge. Even in a good election cycle in the future, it will be difficult for Democrats to capture seats. President Donald Trump would have carried those nine GOP-held districts by an average of 30 points, and none of them by a closer margin than 13 points.
Joe Biden carried the only Democratic-held seat (Louisiana’s 2nd) by 52 points, so that seat isn’t in reach for Republicans, even in a great cycle, unless the FBI finds some cash in Carter’s freezer the way they did in Jefferson’s home in 2005. And even then, Jefferson went on to win another term in 2006, and only narrowly lost while under indictment in 2008.
The bottom line is that Democrats’ current and future House majorities can’t rely on anything more than a single seat coming out of Louisiana and Arkansas.
Races rated Solid Republican
- 1st District (Rick Crawford, R)
- 2nd District (French Hill, R)
- 3rd District (Steve Womack, R)
- 4th District (Bruce Westerman, R)
- 1st District (Steve Scalise, R)
- 3rd District (Clay Higgins, R)
- 4th District (Mike Johnson, R)
- 5th District (Julia Letlow, R)
- 6th District (Garret Graves, R)
Races rated Solid Democratic
- 2nd District (Troy Carter, D)
Nathan L. Gonzales is an elections analyst with CQ Roll Call.