"A little blue dot in a big red state." That's a description often applied to Austin, Texas by national politicos, but it's just as applicable to New Orleans. The results of the presidential and senatorial elections last week confirmed that. Travis County, Texas (home of Austin) voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, 66 percent to 27 percent. Support for Clinton over Trump in Orleans Parish (81-15 percent) left Austin in the dust. Last week's vote for Clinton in New Orleans was one point larger than the city's vote to re-elect President Barack Obama in 2012. The local percentage for Clinton was substantially larger than Austin's, Seattle's and Portland's, in fact. Metro-wide, Clinton and Trump literally split the vote right down the middle, getting 48 percent each in greater New Orleans, according to UNO political science professor Ed Chervenak.
Simply put, New Orleans is blue, and getting bluer. After last Tuesday, many New Orleanians were feeling mighty blue, indeed. "We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought," Clinton said in her concession speech Nov. 9. "But I still believe in America and I always will. And if you do, then we must accept this result and then look to the future." We agree.
New Orleans is blue, and getting bluer. After last Tuesday, many New Orleanians were feeling mighty blue, indeed.
For some New Orleanians, the election evoked the same feelings of disassociation that followed Hurricane Katrina and the federal floods — a sense of disconnection with the rest of America (and, in this case, the rest of the state). How could it not? Four out of five people you see at a city grocery, at a neighborhood restaurant, at a Sunday second line — they all came away from the election disappointed if not shaken. Adding to the disconnect was the knowledge that their candidate won the national popular vote.
In an essay posted Nov. 9, Hrag Vartanian, a critic born in Aleppo, Syria, and now living in the U.S., asked, "What do we do now as artists, writers, curators and other members of a community that was so vested in one candidate?" Many New Orleanians are asking themselves the same question.
For now: Exhale. Visit a local park. Eat a po-boy. Go fishing. Go to a second line. Listen to some live local music. Do something quintessentially New Orleans.
And — though you might not want to hear it now — get ready to vote again. Louisianans will return to the polls Dec. 10 to decide whether state Treasurer John Kennedy, a Republican, or Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, a Democrat, will represent us in the U.S. Senate for the next six years. The difference between the two is stark, and, yes, your vote matters.
If you are among those whose candidate won Tuesday night: congratulations. If you're disappointed at the presidential outcome take heart: We'll do it all again on Nov. 3, 2020. Until then, make sure you, your family and your friends are registered to vote (www.geauxvote.com) — and don't wait four more years to make your voices heard.