Sabato's Crystal Ball

Louisiana (02) House 2010

 

Crystal Ball Outlook: Leans D


Democratic candidate: Cedrick Richmond, state Representative

Republican candidate: Joseph Cao, incumbent

Recent Updates from the Crystal Ball

Update: October 14, 2010

Freshman Republican Rep. Joseph Cao was a major bright spot for the GOP in an otherwise dismal electoral showing in 2008. Last year, Cao unseated nine-term Democratic Rep. William Jefferson by a margin of 50 percent to 47 percent, becoming the first Vietnamese-American elected to Congress. Cao benefited from the major bribery scandal that erupted around William Jefferson, and Cao’s campaign emphasized ethics and honesty, things that were seen as sorely lacking in Jefferson. However, while Cao was able to take advantage of special circumstances in 2008, his reelection in 2010 is by no means guaranteed.

The Louisiana 2nd Congressional District consists of most of the city of New Orleans and its surrounding areas. The district is 31 percent white, 60 percent African-American, 5 percent Hispanic, and 3 percent Asian. It is an extremely diverse district, and it has been in the process of near perpetual rebuilding after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Until recently, Democrats have reigned in the Louisiana 2nd, with Al Gore winning 76 percent of the vote in 2000, John Kerry winning with 75 percent in 2004, Barack Obama winning with 75 percent in 2008. Furthermore, the district was represented by Democrats in Congress every year from 1891 to 2009. However, Cao’s victory shows that Republicans, while certainly not the majority, do still have electoral viability in the district, especially when corruption becomes an issue.

While Cao’s victory was a boost for Republicans, the Democrats are intent on regaining a seat that they have monopolized for over a century. State Reps. Cedric Richmond and Juan LaFonta have both announced campaigns for the Democratic nomination. Both candidates have called Cao’s conservative positions into question, and both are seeking to regain the trust of Democratic voters.

While Cao has an inspirational story and the benefits of incumbency, he is facing an uphill battle for reelection in a district that still very much leans Democratic. Cao benefited from scandal in 2008, but, if he hopes to be reelected in 2012, he will have to find a way to win the battle of ideas against the scandal-free Democratic challengers who are targeting his seat. Leans Democratic.