Semester of Graduation

December 2020


Master of Mass Communication (MMC)


Manship School of Mass Communication

Document Type



This thesis examines the effects of the 2016 Louisiana floods had on the 2019 Ascension Parish Council elections and the local home building industry. The 2016 floods in Louisiana had a devastating effect on the parishes of Ascension, East Baton Rouge and Livingston. The flood waters destroyed thousands of homes and killed over a dozen residents. Theories of blame attribution, policy responsiveness and retrospective voting suggest why Ascension Parish residents voted out nearly half their parish council in the 2019 elections, many of whom were incumbents. In the months following the 2019 election, parish council members have attempted to represent what they think the public desires.

The first research question of this thesis asks whether a natural disaster can create a divide in opinion so deep that it influences local elections and sways policies against a particular industry, leading to three hypotheses. The first hypothesis is that candidates who used building related words, positively or negatively, would have a better chance of winning their election was supported by five of the eleven districts. The second hypothesis was that candidates in heavily flooded areas would use more building related words than other candidates in their Facebook posts. The two most heavily impacted districts in the 2016 flood did not support the hypothesis. A third hypothesis states the incumbents would lose percentage points from 2015 to 2019, which was upheld in four districts.

Committee Chair

Darr, Joshua



Available for download on Tuesday, October 26, 2027