Louisiana 5th District
Northeast Louisiana is perhaps the least known part of the state. Along the Mississippi River and the Red River and their dozens of tributaries, it was plantation country before the Civil War, and there are African-American majorities today in many parishes. Away from the rivers, in the hill country, small farmers scratched out a living on land connected to parish courthouses by dusty lanes. Such was Winn Parish, where Huey P. Long, the pivotal figure in modern Louisiana politics, was born in 1893 and from which he began his meteoric political career. Elected governor in 1928 and senator in 1930, he was a national figure threatening both parties when he was assassinated in 1935 in the new high-rise Capitol he built in Baton Rouge. Three-term Gov. Earl Long, Huey’s younger brother, once joked that voters some day would elect “good government, and they won’t like it.”
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 5th Congressional District of Louisiana contains much of this country, from the river parishes to the hills of Winn Parish. The biggest urban areas here, with about 50,000 people each, are Monroe in the north and Alexandria in the south. Alexandria, in Rapides Parish, sits at the northernmost extension of Cajun, Catholic Louisiana and is majority black. Monroe in Ouachita Parish is heavily Protestant and home to one of the world’s leading Bible collections, assembled by an heir to an early Coca-Cola bottler. Redistricting added some Cajun areas in Allen and Evangeline parishes and black precincts in Pointe Coupee and Iberville parishes, all Democratic areas. Overall, population has been declining in this area. Except for in the parishes along the river, Republicans have run strongly in this district. George W. Bush increased his vote here from 57% in 2000 to 62% in 2004, his second best showing in the state. John McCain won the district 62%-37%.