Three weeks ago, US Senator Mary Landrieu swapped out campaign managers in a move that was splashed across the headlines of the Times Picayune as signal that the Democratic incumbent was in panic mode after a poll showed that Landrieu was not only trailing in the likely runoff with Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy but was surprisingly behind in the primary as well.
Though the polls for Landrieu have somewhat improved, in which the Democratic incumbent has regained her lead in the November 4th primary over Cassidy, the polling data for the December runoff remains bleak with her main Republican challenger running ahead.
Rather than trying to win over undecided voters, Landrieu has borrowed Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign playbook and is instead doubling down on turning out her party’s base vote.
Hence the surprising announcement that Hillary Clinton, the more politically polarizing half of America’s Democrat power couple, will join Landrieu at a rally in New Orleans the weekend before the election.
In the last debate featuring the top three US Senate candidates, Landrieu was more intent on making the case against her likely December runoff opponent Cassidy instead of arguing for her own re-election.
Landrieu also coopted some of her party’s “targeted messaging”, that being the Democratic propaganda that they keep off of mainstream media, by blaming racism for the economic disparity between blacks and whites and then played the Democrats’ worn out “war on women” card that has been flopping around the country.
Even though retired Colonel Rob Maness is in no way a threat to Landrieu, the Democratic US Senator swung at him as well, not so much to try to shake votes off of him (if anything Maness’s presence in the race is a benefit to Landrieu because it will provide her a big cushion between her and Cassidy in the primary) but seized the opportunity to lambaste the “TEA Party”, which the Left has turned into a favorite bogeyman.
In the debate, Landrieu wasn’t trying to win over undecided voters but light a fire under Democrats.
But Landrieu’s success as of late wasn’t measured in her performance in a debate that few people watched, but in her campaign and her party’s GOTV efforts in early voting, that in some instances took the form of vote hauling through a transit system shuttling people to parish voter registration offices and vote stampeding via racially incendiary campaign messaging via radio and mailers that invoked the Ferguson riots.
And apparently they paid big dividends.
According to Louisiana early voter statistics, the Democrats turned out at a rate closer to a presidential election than a typical midterm election. The big question for the Democrats is whether the early voting push was nothing more than the mere “rearranging” a finite voter universe or if they laid the foundation for a big spike on election day.
The results of the 2012 presidential election point to the latter, where black voter participation rates exceeded that of white voters for the first time.
Early voting has been a boon for the Democrats nationally as it gives them 7 days (or more pending on the state’s laws) to bring to the polls voters who generally hold a lifelong political disposition for their party and an animus against the GOP that is constantly reinforced by demagogic messaging in popular culture, churches and the media.
The advantage the Democrats have is that their base vote is largely immune to national trends and indifferent to economic pressures and thus can act as a political bulwark that can bail out an embattled Democrat with a tight electoral margin (Landrieu).
Propelled by an efficient and well-organized vote turnout operation that seems to only get better with each election cycle, Landrieu will likely not only lead the field on November 4th but will come tantalizingly close to 50% +1 (I’m projecting 48%).
The challenge Landrieu’s team will face is keeping her base vote motivated to vote again in December after the likely Republican takeover of the US Senate on Tuesday.