Put simply, according to the New York Times recently most of the people who left the state of Louisiana are voters in heavily Democratic New Orleans. This will shift state power away from New Orleans to the more rural and suburban areas of the state.
On the upside for Democrats, Lousiana had been losing population for sometime and was down to only 9 electoral votes-and was expected to lose at least one seat after the 2010 census before Katrina. Meanwhile Nevada has grown to 5 electoral votes and may grow more.
Demographically the Nevada metro areas (cities and suburbs) which Kerry won are growing while the growth of non-metro Nevada has slowed (this is one reason why Bush’s margin over Kerry was only 2% out there as opposed to the 4% margin he racked up over Gore in 2000).
In addition Lousiana had only voted Democrat 2 times (1976, 1996) since the Kennedy Adminstration so La. was already moving away from the Dems. With the huge growth in the Hispanic population in Nevada (and remember that 64% of Hispanics voted for Kerry nationally) and a nascent union movement in Nevada, perhaps Nevada is finally ready to switch to becoming a Democrat leaning-swing state. Except for voting for Ford over Carter in 1976 Nevada has voted for the presidential election winner in every election since 1912. All the more reason to target it. Except for Carter and Gore New Mexico has also voted for the winner in every election since 1912, and Kerry only lost it by .6%. Shift just .3% of the vote and Kerry wins this state that is a non-majority minority state (and is becoming more so as more Hispanics become citizens and vote). Gore only won the state by 366 votes in 2000, and Kerry got more voted in this state and a greater percent of the vote than any post-1964 Democrat nominee. New Mexico and Nevada make up 10 EV’s combined.
Of course the NY Times could be wrong. There has been some optimism expressed here about La. becoming more Democrat as a result of Katrina and Bush’s incompetence. But even if the worst case scenario depicted in the NY Times turns out to be true, just remember Dems do have other options.