Search This Blog


Especially for Dems, LA primaries have relevancy

Many in the political class nationwide snickered when Louisiana placed the imperatives of Mardi Gras ahead of bumping up its presidential preference primaries four days as did almost half of American states and territories. Many predicted the irrelevancy of the primary. But given delegate results to date, unexpectedly the state will get plenty of attention over the next few days and already the increased importance of the event is rippling through the state’s political environment.

Where the state really will matter is on the Democrat side. Sen. Barack Obama will visit New Orleans tomorrow although Sen. Hillary Clinton at this point plans not visits. The latter may indicate that her campaign will write off the state courtesy of the dynamic in play starting with the South Carolina primary: black democrats overwhelmingly choose Obama, even as whites in large but lesser proportions choose Clinton. At present, of the state Democrat electorate 45 percent are black but it must be realized that a significant chunk of white Democrats regularly do not vote for Democrats and will not want to participate in Saturday’s primary, giving Obama the edge.

Still, complicated apportionment rules for Democrats don’t mean that Obama will come out ahead in Louisiana, even if in the delegates selected by popular vote. For one, only 37 of the 66 delegates will come from the popular vote, and Democrat rules are that these must be apportioned by congressional district with any candidate (or uncommitted slate) getting at least 15 percent of the vote to receive a delegate (other rules apply in no one does, but that won’t happen). Districts have delegates available on the basis of party performance in the 2007 elections where higher-supporting districts get more delegates.

Applying a rule of thumb that all black and 75 percent of white Democrats vote with 90 percent of blacks for Obama and 80 percent of whites for Clinton, the former would win 21 and the latter 16 delegates. Statewide, Obama would pick up 57 percent of the vote which also would give him the edge with the delegates to be selected at the state central committee meeting May 3 – 19 up for grabs and if the proportion is followed, Obama may get 11 of them giving him an 8 delegate overall edge.

But Clinton still could “tie” the state because of the 10 additional “super-delegates” to be selected at the meeting, only one, Rep. William Jefferson, may lean Obama’s way. And since Obama has to overcome an overall national deficit of delegates with Clinton, if she can hold his delegate haul from Louisiana near parity with hers, it’s practically speaking a win for her.

The GOP side is simpler to calculate but potentially even messier since apportionment of delegates actually will be made the weekend after the vote (unless one candidate gets at least half of the vote which is highly unlikely) at a convention of delegates picked last month. The dynamic also is different, with Sen. John McCain having a much bigger lead over his closest rival former Gov. Mitt Romney.

In the delegate election in January, an uncommitted slate won 86 of the 105 spots. Generally speaking, the policy preferences of that slate’s members indicated they would lean to Romney. But McCain supporters have been pressuring these uncommitted members to publicly acknowledge support of McCain to try to build an aura of inevitability around their candidate.

The state can expect little in the way of overt campaigning from the Republican side because the delegates have been selected and no one thinks extra effort will produce an absolute majority for a candidate on Saturday. Thus, the real relevancy of the primaries here will come on the Democrat side where anything but a big Obama win means Louisiana will have served as part of a firewall for Clinton as she heads towards a nomination much more laborious than she hoped or planned.

1 comment:

Soldier's Mom said...

Obama garnered 24% of the white vote in So. Carolina, and 43% of the white vote in Georgia. The more white folks learn about Barack Obama, the better they like him. I would expect Louisianans have opinions as modern as the rest of the New South.