Race and partisanship, plus an unpopular incumbent, determined the Shreveport mayor’s general election – and the same dynamics point to the winner in the runoff, an analysis of precinct demographics and voting results from the election shows.
That contest featured five significant candidates: white Republican former city councilor Tom Arceneaux, Hispanic no party Caddo Parish Commissioner Mario Chavez, black Democrat City Councilor LeVette Fuller, black Democrat Mayor Adrian Perkins, and black Democrat state Sen. Greg Tarver. Arceneaux, with 28 percent, and Tarver, with 24 percent, advanced to the runoff; Chavez finished third with 18 percent, Perkins a bit behind him, followed by Fuller with 10 percent.
Using the statistical technique multiple linear regression with voter percentage for each candidate as the dependent variable and percentages of white Democrats, black Democrats, and Republicans as independent variables by precinct reveals the strength and direction, and whether significant, of support for each candidate by these important blocs, by isolating each factor with others held constant. Proportion of other race and party initially were analyzed, given Chavez’s race and non-affiliation, but in all analyses including of his proportions proved insignificant in statistical explanatory power.
Arceneaux made it there with strong Republican support and to a lesser degree from white Democrats. Chavez garnered a similar coalition but to a lesser extent among Republicans although a bit stronger among white Democrats, but Arceneaux did a better job of attracting these largely white voters and won among that base. This suggests that a large chunk of Chavez voters will head Arceneaux’s way in the runoff.
But that may be it, a review of the other candidates’ factors shows. Only one was of significance for Tarver, black Democrats strongly supporting him. Most interestingly, Fuller disproportionately didn’t receive support predictably from Republicans and more surprisingly from black Democrats, but did from white Democrats. She was seen by that segment of voters as a more progressively liberal and reformist candidate – kind of how Perkins was viewed four years ago, but that’s not much of a base to build upon when a veteran like Tarver with plenty of campaign cash can activate long-standing loyalties among black voters.
As for Perkins, he was the default candidate with not much going for him, it can be inferred from no group disproportionately supporting him, but both white Democrats and Republicans less likely to do so. They saw plenty of cause not to vote for him, while black Democrats, monopolized by Tarver (in precincts where Republicans and white Democrats comprised less than 10 percent of registrants, Tarver pulled 44 percent of the vote on average), didn’t see much reason to vote for him. His dismal showing came from picking up everybody else’s scraps, which may be attributed to his lackluster performance in office.
Thus, for the runoff it becomes pretty clear: Republicans and white Democrats largely will support Arceneaux, while black Democrats largely will support Tarver. In an electorate with fewer than a quarter of voters registered as Republicans and over half black registrants, this is a problem for Arceneaux, for in those precincts above where Tarver did well that comprise over a third of all he and Chavez averaged just about 10 percent of the vote.
And, he doesn’t have a lot of room to grow his vote. Adjusting for the over 26 percent who voted early who aren’t broken down by precinct, in unsplit precincts where he racked up at least 10 percent of the vote turnout was estimated at 42.5 percent, while in the same precincts for Tarver he had an estimated only 40.4 percent turnout (expected lower as that demographic group tends to have lower turnout), so Tarver actually has a little more room to expand the electorate in fertile places for him.
In 2006, Republican Jerry Jones, based on general election numbers, looked to be a slight favorite to deny Democrat Cedric Glover the chance to become the city’s first black mayor. Instead, Glover tuned up turnout efforts a notch and grabbed the win with 54 percent. In 2022, even as general election numbers, assuming two-thirds of Chavez’s vote goes to Arceneaux, would push him to 40 percent, the pool of voters remaining overwhelmingly should head Tarver’s way. Arceneaux should do better than any GOP candidate since then, but it is unlikely he will do better and highly improbable that he can win.