Beam: Louisiana Democratic Party "in pretty sad shape"

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The number of Louisiana voters who identify themselves as Democrats is at its lowest point in more than 50 years.

According to the Secretary of State's office, Democrats make up less than 50% of registered voters. It's the first time that has happened since 1957.

While Democrats still outnumber Republicans and other parties nearly two to one, the number of registered Democrats has steadily declined since the 1970s, when Democrats held 90 percent of registered voters and held a majority of state offices.

Today, Republicans dominate state government, controlling not only the governorship but both houses of the legislature. In addition, Republicans hold every elected statewide office except one.

Longtime political columnist Jim Beam describes the current state of the Democratic Party as "pretty sad."

Beam said while there are multiple factors, most of the changes in the last three decades have been out of the Democratic Party's control.

"The South has always been extremely conservative and I think that's the main reason why," said Beam. "We just have conservative politics. Even Democrats, for the last 30 years, have been pretty much conservatives."

Beam believes Republicans will continue dominating Louisiana politics for the foreseeable future.

"These days, it's kind of like if you're not a Republican, you've got a tough time winning an election," said Beam.

Beam points out how no major Democratic candidate has emerged to challenge Gov. Jindal's re-election.

"So far he's got a teacher who's running against him, who at last count, had less than a thousand dollars in the bank. [Jindal's] got almost $9 million," said Beam. "I just don't see at this late stage, with the election coming up on October 22nd, anybody who can seriously challenge him."

Beam said though Democrats may be down, they're not out.

"The pendulum swings from one side to the other, so yeah I see the re-emergence of the Democratic Party eventually," said Beam. "They may have to change some of their views to appeal to the voters in this state. They've really got to think about their future, why is it they've lost so much control and what they need to do to get it back."

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