Saturday was the first day of early voting for the Dec. 10 elections around the state, with four major races to be decided – the Senate election between John Kennedy and Foster Campbell, the 3rd District congressional race between Scott Angelle and Clay Higgins, the 4th District congressional race between Mike Johnson and Marshall Jones and the East Baton Rouge mayor-president race between Bodi White and Sharon Weston Broome.
The results from the first day of early voting weren’t very positive for the Democrats in those races. Pollster John Couvillon went through the numbers…
Dismal early voting turnout
While early voting was expected to drop off relative to the Presidential race, yesterday’s early vote was still a very steep (74%) drop-off compared to the first day of primary early voting – 22,202 early voted yesterday (87,066 early voted on the first day for the Presidential race). To put this number in perspective, the last time first day early voting was this low was during the 2011 statewide elections, which had a 37% voter turnout.
Yesterday’s top three early voting parishes were East Baton Rouge (2,881 early votes), St Tammany (2,476), and Orleans (1,956).
While yesterday’s turnout was abysmally low, it probably didn’t help that early voting started during the Thanksgiving holidays. Let’s see if turnout rebounds any tomorrow.
Minimal Democratic enthusiasm
In addition to the low turnout, Democrats didn’t turn out in large numbers either: the racial breakdown of early voters was 77-19% white/black (for comparison’s sake, first day early voting was 70-27% white/black for the Presidential race) – the last time the black percentage was this low on the first day was the 2010 Senate race. Furthermore, Republicans outvoted Democrats for the first time ever: the partisan breakdown was 43.5-41% Republican/Democratic (it was 48-38% Democratic/Republican in the primary).
It will be interesting to see if more Democrats early vote throughout the week, although in JMC’s experience, Democratic early voting tends to be the heaviest on Saturdays for Saturday elections.
The other three races, let’s be honest, aren’t really competitive from an intraparty standpoint; Angelle and Higgins are both Republicans, and Kennedy and Johnson will both flirt with 2-to-1 margins over their Democrat opponents.
But in East Baton Rouge, the model of the electorate is crucial – because it’s going to tell the tale of the race. White needs a turnout model that skews sharply toward Republicans, because he’s likely to lose more white voters than Broome will lose black voters.
White might just get that. Of the 2,881 voters who showed up for early voting on Saturday, 1,690 – or 58.7 percent – were white. That’s the kind of number which could get him a victory. And the partisan breakdown isn’t terrible – 53.5 percent were Democrats, but there are lots of registered Democrats in East Baton Rouge who are Republican voters.
We’re only looking at one day of early voting so far, of course. It means next to nothing. But with a mayor’s race crucial to the future of the state’s capital city, it will be fascinating to see how the turnout model plays out over the next several days.