Something Interesting Is Going On Out There With Respect To Louisiana’s Election

Yesterday we had a post on the early voting numbers in advance of the Oct. 12 primary in Louisiana’s statewide election cycle, in which we remarked that Republican voters appear to be surging at the expense of Democrats and particularly black Democrats.

We weren’t completely convinced that this was a “thing.” We’re getting there now.

Looking at early voting numbers posted after the close of business yesterday, which include three of the seven days of the early voting period, the trend of Republicans coming out in droves is strengthening rather than receding, and in some parishes the white-to-black ratio of voter turnout is wildly disproportionate to registration.

It has the feel of something happening under the surface that nobody really picked up on.

After three days 43.4 percent of the early vote turnout is Democrat and 42.3 percent is Republican. It has never happened that raw GOP vote turnout has come so close to matching that of Democrats in a statewide or federal election in Louisiana. Republicans are within 1.1 percent of Democrats.

As it is expected that more registered Democrats will vote for one of the two Republican candidates than registered Republicans will vote for John Bel Edwards, that number alone would signal the likelihood of a runoff election between Edwards and either Ralph Abraham or Eddie Rispone in November.

But there is more.

East Baton Rouge Parish is far and away the most active parish in the state with respect to early voting. As of close of business yesterday 17,436 people have voted early in East Baton Rouge. Of those, only 31.5 percent are black, and Democrats outnumber Republicans 7,792 to 7,140. That isn’t what an EBR electorate is supposed to look like. By registration Democrats are 47.2 percent of East Baton Rouge voters and Republicans are only 27.6 percent – for 41 percent of the early voting so far in this election to be Republican within East Baton Rouge Parish is an astonishing number. And with voter registration in East Baton Rouge being 50.4 percent white to 44.2 percent black, for the split so far to be 65.5-to-31.5 white to black thus far is a radical change from the norm.

Sure, a great deal of this is driven by the St. George incorporation vote, and the most fired-up voters in the whole state are people living in the southern reaches of East Baton Rouge Parish where St. George is on the ballot. And sure, those voters are overwhelmingly Republican.

Of course, that certainly matters to the overall electorate, and those voters might well play a decisive role in whether Edwards can escape a runoff. Edwards did, after all, veto a bill that would have set up a transitional taxing district in the event St. George passed, and because of that veto if the new city does pass on Oct. 12 it won’t be able to collect sales taxes without another bill passing for it to do so. That hasn’t been forgotten by St. George voters, many of whom are Republicans who might well be leery of the fact the governor would appoint their first mayor and city council until elections could be held for those positions – and that leeriness might well make them wish to elect Rispone or Abraham.

In other words, it’s exceptionally bad news for John Bel Edwards that St. George voters are coming out of the woodwork.

Perhaps it wasn’t such a great idea to bring Maxine Waters to Baton Rouge on Friday for a get-out-the-vote rally. More on that below.

But that’s not the only story here. In Caddo Parish, for example, the early voting numbers are outright crazy. By registration Caddo is 49.1 percent white, 46.6 percent black, and Democrats outnumber Republicans 47.8 percent to 27.9. But so far whites are 63.8 percent of the vote there, an almost 2-to-1 margin over black voters, and Republicans are 42.4 percent of the electorate.

In Ouachita Parish, by registration whites are 61.1 percent of the vote and blacks 35.5 percent, and Democrats outnumber Republicans by a close 38.6-35.9 percent margin. So far in early voting 73.9 percent of the vote is white and only 24.3 percent black, and Republicans are 51 percent of the vote to the Democrats’ 37.2 percent.

More Republicans have turned out to vote in Tangipahoa Parish, Edwards’ home, than Democrats. That isn’t supposed to happen. Democrats outnumber Republicans there by a 38.9-32.6 percent margin.

In Ascension Parish, Democrats and Republicans are basically even – 36.5 percent is Republican, and 35.7 percent is Democrat. So far 46.5 percent of the vote has come from the GOP.

And on, and on. In almost every parish you’re seeing a double-digit surge by percentage in Republican voting, which is skewing the electorate hard to the right, and it seems to be intensifying each day.

In Jeremy Alford’s Tuesday tracker newsletter (subscribe to it here), one theory for this was put forth, commented on by pollster John Couvillon of JMC Analytics…

The one thing everyone can seem to agree on, however, is that early voting is a huge hit, with more than 164,000 voters participating throughout Saturday — despite the various college football games that were being waged — and Monday and Tuesday.

During the first three days of early voting in the last gubernatorial cycle four years ago, only 88,000 voters participated, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

John Couvillon, president of JMC Analytics and Polling, and others have noted that Louisiana’s early voting process is conceding with a push by Democrats in the U.S. House to initiate impeachment hearings into the administration of President Donald Trump.

Could such national political news be motivating early voting in the Bayou State?

“It’s an off-the-wall theory,” Couvillon said, adding that GOP voters are nonetheless outpacing Democrats in early voting here so far, as compared to 2015. “Republicans are fired up.”

So far 43 percent of early voters were registered Democrats and 42 percent were Republicans, compared to 51 percent and 35 percent respectively for the first three days of 2015.

There are, of course, other theories, beginning with the fact that early voting is simply growing in popularity. Democratic consultants involved in this year’s race for governor say the top drawer campaigns are catering more to earl voting than ever, from direct mail and radio to traditional get-out-the-vote efforts.

There’s also something to be said about aggregate registration trends over the past term, and whether they correlate to turnout by party. Of the 2.9 million voters registered in October of 2015, 1.3 million were Democrats and 813,000 were Republicans. Of the nearly 3 million voters registered as of this week, 1.2 million were Democrats and 918,000 Republicans.

The increasing GOP voter registration is a real factor. The trend toward the convenience of early voting is also a real factor. But the impeachment issue pissing off Republican voters in the state can’t be ignored. National Democrats are stirring up a hornet’s nest of Republicans who have had it with the Hard Left.

Which brings us to Maxine Waters, whose presence at that get-out-the-vote rally was the gift that will likely keep on giving. Of course there was video of her speech, and of course the state GOP has it, and of course it’s now out…

Who do you think will get more fired up about voting after watching that video? Black Democrats or white Republicans?

The impeachment thing is only going to continue to grow as an issue, even though a colossal opportunity to impale Edwards with it was missed in Thursday’s debate. So far Edwards has done everything he could to skate from having to directly answer whether he’s for impeaching Donald Trump, but that won’t continue forever.

After all, the president and pretty much his entire camp have come out on Twitter to exhort Republicans to vote against Edwards, which puts pressure on him to retaliate (which he can’t really do if he wants to hold on to crossover GOP support). And Edwards has taken potshots at Trump before, which could easily be strung together to create a fairly thick inference that he’s for impeachment.

For example, there was this, in which he made fun of Trump’s tweet yesterday…

Back in June Edwards took a dump on the Make America Great Again motto by essentially saying Trump voters weren’t good people…

Then there was Edwards calling Trump a lunch-counter segregationist (apparently much like his grandfather, who he has featured in his campaign commercials) in a response to the latter’s calling-out of Ilhan Omar’s anti-American rantings back in July.

Edwards, meanwhile, is trying to stop the bleeding of the Trump tweets and hold some piece of Republican support he depends on if he’s going to win. On Friday, this ad dropped…

And this afternoon there’s a dog-and-pony show in downtown Baton Rouge at which a host of local politicos will be endorsing Edwards. Most of them are the usual suspects – Reps. Barbara Carpenter, Pat Smith and Ted James, mayor-president Sharon Weston Broome, and so on. But there’s somebody else scheduled to be there…

So to get this straight Edwards is now touting Republican support from Richard Lipsey, who he put on the Board of Regents, Richard Zuschlag, who as the CEO of Acadian Ambulance is a government contractor, and three politicians in Blade Morrish, John Alario and Kenny Havard.

Kenny Havard? Who put himself down as the dumbest legislator at the Capitol when he tried to bring an amendment imposing age and weight limits on strippers? Who attempted to engage in a coup d’etat against Taylor Barras as speaker? Who is roundly despised by the Republican delegation and whose departure from the legislature was hailed as a bit of political hygeine? That’s who Edwards is touting an endorsement from?

When you’re down to touting endorsements from Alario and Havard as proof you’re popular with Republicans, it’s a far piece from calling yourself a Trump-friendly Democrat.

And with those early voting numbers showing out as they are, there is definitely some sort of movement going on in this election.

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