Tuesday, April 04, 2006


The Political Storm Surge

By Clancy DuBos

Analyzing New Orleans elections is trickier than ever. The best metaphor I can think of is a rip tide. When strong winds push huge amounts of water ashore, the result is not just an undertow, but a seriously strong set of currents beneath the stormy surface -- often going in several directions at once. Looking at the surf gives no clue as to the strength or direction of the undercurrents.

So it is with the elections in New Orleans.

The winds of Hurricane Katrina died down long ago, but the political storm surge is still with us.

The slow pace of recovery, Mayor Ray Nagin's erratic comments and puzzling support of costly recovery contracts, Gov. Kathleen Blanco's inability to get respect from state lawmakers and Congress, citizens' general frustration with FEMA and insurance companies -- it all adds up to a lot of angry voters.

How that anger will play out at the ballot box is not yet clear, but it's a sure bet that voters will take the opportunity to vent their frustrations.

Hence, the undercurrents. We know the seas are rough, but there's no way to tell which way the undertow is pulling --left, right, straight down or out to sea. It's a dangerous time to swim in local political waters.

Here's a look at several political undercurrents and how they might play out on April 22:

Black vs. white.
Democrat vs. Republican.
Business vs. politics.

Trickiest of all will be trying to figure which of those currents will pull the most voters on Election Day. That's one reason why the whole world is watching.

The results could say a lot about the national elections in November and the statewide contests in 2007.

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