HITHER AND YON: The Early Vote Is A Killer For Foster Campbell’s Hopes

Last year in the gubernatorial runoff John Bel Edwards used to win a resounding victory over the badly-damaged campaign of David Vitter, it was the early vote which sank the Republican.

Edwards won some 60 percent of the early vote in that race, which established him in such a lead that even though Vitter was able to do much better in Election Day voting, his was a dead campaign walking.

And so if Edwards’ endorsee in this year’s Senate race were to hope to copy Edwards’ upset victory over Vitter, he’d need to have established a lead in the early vote.

This did not happen. In fact, the early vote for the Senate runoff appears to have been catastrophic to any hope for a Campbell victory.

We know this due to a number of factors.

First, there’s the rule which says a Democrat running statewide in Louisiana will need to earn 90 percent of the black vote in Louisiana and have black voters constitute 30 percent of the electorate. And typically, black voters turn out in larger numbers for the early vote than they do on Election Day.

Campbell might get 90 percent of the black vote. But it won’t be 30 percent of the runoff electorate. Not when just 23.7 percent of the early vote was made up by black voters. That’s a cataclysmic number for him and it’s an indication he has very meager support in the black community.

And fairly terrible support among Democrat voters in general. Democrats hold a 44-30 advantage in voter registration in Louisiana (a number which is fairly rapidly decreasing), but among the early voters Democrats only beat Republicans to the polls by a 46-42 margin. And as we know, there are a goodly number of registered Democrats who are reliable Republican voters.

Further, the early voting looks like it’s going to reflect a fairly low turnout. There were 532,000 early votes in advance of the November 8 election, in which Republican candidates won about 60 percent of the vote, and just 171,000 early votes for the runoff. To show how much whiter and more Republican the runoff electorate appears to be, black turnout represented 26.7 percent of the total in the primary, compared with 23.6 percent this time. And the Democrats turned out more votes than the Republicans by a 44.5-38.6 margin, compared with 46-42 for this cycle.

There were 51,000 early votes in the Democrat bastion of Orleans Parish. Just 14,000 turned out for early voting in the runoff cycle. Campbell has gotten next to zero help from Caroline Fayard, who tied Campbell for the lead in Orleans Parish at 32 percent of the vote – she says it’s because he didn’t ask her for it, which is understandable given her having offered the weakest endorsement we’ve seen in modern Louisiana politics.

That’s a fairly good indication that Campbell is going to get hammered on Saturday, barring some miraculous comeback of his, or a collapse by John Kennedy which doesn’t seem likely.

Campbell’s people have been touting reports that he’s outraised Kennedy as of the last FEC disclosure by a $2.5 million-to-$1.6 million margin. That’s meaningless in a race which isn’t competitive, and it won’t change the fundamentals. Kennedy is going to crush Campbell. We’ll find out after the election how much of Campbell’s loan to his campaign was paid back thanks to the out-of-state donors who gave him the bulk of that $2.5 million.

Like P.T. Barnum said, there’s one born every minute.

More interesting with respect to the early vote are the numbers in East Baton Rouge Parish, where there is a crucial mayor’s race to be decided on Saturday.

The dynamics of that race are as follows: the parish has more white voters than black by about a 52-48 margin, but there are more white voters willing to cross over and vote for a black candidate than vice versa; the reverse number is negligible, while as much as 20 percent of the white vote is obtainable by the right black candidate.

Sharon Weston Broome, the black Democrat candidate in the race, is not seen as being as marketable as outgoing three-term mayor Kip Holden. Therefore Bodi White, the Republican in the runoff, has an opportunity to win if he can get considerably more white voters to turn out and consolidate the white vote at a clip better than the 80 percent conventional wisdom says he can pull.

Which is why White is running ads like this one…

Can’t get any more syrupy than that, right? It’s aimed at attracting the soccer moms and other “softy” white voters who will often cross the racial line to vote for black candidates out of a sense of civic unity – even though the policies that result usually end in white flight and even more damaged race relations.

What the early vote in East Baton Rouge showed is White still has an opportunity to win, though it isn’t a perfect one.

White voters made up 56.7 percent of the early voting in EBR, whereas black voters were 40.3 percent. That’s a pretty good spread. The party breakdown of the early vote wasn’t all that good for White, though – Democrats made up 53 percent of the early voters, whereas Republicans were only 34 percent. EBR has lots of white Democrats who reliably vote Republican, and those tend to be older and live in areas which are Bodi White territory – Baker, Zachary, Central and Greenwell Springs, for example. But given that the voter registration spread between D’s and R’s is 48-28 in East Baton Rouge and the spread for the early vote was almost identical at 53-34, he has some work to do on turnout.

That said, we’re told Broome’s camp blew an enormous amount of their stack on a turnout operation for Saturday’s early voting – and that operation pumped the percentage of the black vote from around 37 percent to the 40.3 percent it turned out to be. We’ll find out whether that was the peak for the black vote, or if they’ve got an equal turnout operation for Election Day this Saturday.

Mike Yenni should have already resigned as Jefferson Parish president, and it’s a matter of time before he finally gets around to it.

Anybody sensible in Yenni’s position would have concocted an excuse to get out before his sexting scandal even became an issue. That he thinks he can survive it is sheer lunacy, but he’s still holding on. Meanwhile, there’s an active recall effort which is likely to bear fruit and the media attention gets worse and worse all the time.

For example, there was this over the weekend…

The former Jesuit High School student at the center of Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni‘s sexting scandal, after writing in an online magazine about their dalliance but not naming Yenni, is now publicly identifying Yenni as the politician who “pursued” him. Alex Daigle, now attending Brown University, said he wrote the article as a warning to other young gay men — not for a cash prize as Yenni has asserted.

Daigle, who has not been identified in news stories until now, posted a statement online Friday night (Dec. 2) in The Tab to say his original story there is a truthful account and not fiction. “I was pursued by Mike Yenni in the summer of 2015. I stand by my February 2016 article in its entirety. It is factual,” Daigle wrote. “My sole intent in writing it was to warn others of the risk of older men in power preying upon teenage boys.”

The original story carried Daigle’s byline but did not name Yenni, instead calling Daigle’s pursuer “Kevin”. Daigle’s public naming of Yenni on Friday comes after an editor at The Tab also called Yenni’s characterization of the story “utter nonsense.” In an interview earlier this week with NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, the magazine’s editor in chief, Joshi Herrmann, said Daigle’s story had been checked by editors and vetted by the website’s attorney over the course of three months.

“The Tab is 100 percent confident that the story we published is right,” Herrmann said. “We don’t publish fiction, and Mike Yenni’s profession that we do publish fiction is utter, utter nonsense.”

And how about this quote. Can it possibly get worse?

“I resent the claim that my article was written with the intent to be ‘salacious.’ The article was in no way meant to be a personal attack, but rather an example of dangerous, predatory behaviors within our community that might be overlooked without an active voice making them heard.

“Even though others released my name and details about my own private life, I chose not to name Mr Yenni in the original article. Now, Mr Yenni has chosen to deny the facts rather than to admit to his actions, presumably in an effort to protect his own image, and, in the process, has chosen to attack my integrity.

“I choose to no longer be victimized by Mr Yenni.”

It’s hard to understand why a job as a parish president could possibly be worth this kind of humiliation. Particularly when everybody knows how this will end.

So we have a Today’s Last Thing, and it doesn’t have anything to do with Louisiana like we’d prefer the Today’s Last Things at the end of our Hither And Yon posts to.

But we’ll wager this is OK anyway, because you won’t see this often.

We take you to Australia, where a hunting party complete with dogs was in the wild looking for a boar. Instead the dogs found something else, and one of them needed some help from his owner.

We’ll just let you watch the rest…

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