Geographical Patterns in the Louisiana Republican Primary

The map of the Louisiana Republican presidential primary supplied by the Huffington Post last week revealed little of interest: Mitt Romney won Orleans Parish (encompassing New Orleans) decisively, and Rick Santorum took every other part of the state. A modified version of the map that shows Santorum’s margin of victory, however, reveals several other patterns. As can be seen, Santorum did not do quite as well in urban parishes as he did in rural ones, at least in the southern half of the state. His margin of victory was also somewhat lower than average in the rural parishes bordering the Mississippi River in the eastern part of the state.

As many commentators have noted, Santorum, a Roman Catholic, has done particularly well in areas dominated by evangelical Protestants. In the North and Midwest, Santorum have received more support from voters in this group than from Roman Catholics. In Louisiana, little difference is apparent between these two groups within the Republican electorate. As can been seen on these maps, the state’s striking division between its mostly Catholic south and its largely Protestant north was not reflected in this primary contest.

In the past, Louisiana’s religious divide was sometimes visible in election returns. The pattern was clearly evident in the general election of 1960s, in which John Kennedy, a Roman Catholic, triumphed in the south but lost the north.