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Big Democrat turnout drop gives GOP runoff opportunities

It’s not that Republicans appeared any more motivated to vote last month in state elections, it’s that Democrats weren’t and many have left the state and taking potential Democrat votes with them – consequences of which will reverberate in future elections as early as this month’s.

The state has compiled official voting statistics which prompted one analyst to assert that a “motivated community” or Republicans marked the contest. Actually, when comparing the results of the elections to those of the 2003 primary where 54.4 percent of Republicans votes, shows there was little difference. The real difference, which was under 4 percent for the total turnout between 2007 and 2003, came in Democrat voters and especially with black voters, as white Democrat participation dropped from 60.2 to 52 percent, but black Democrat participation swooned from 49.4 percent to 37 percent.

Three things explain the GOP voters staying essentially the same while Democrats suffered declines. First, switching and migration patterns favor the GOP, and at least among the switchers, since they are involved enough in politics to feel switching is necessary, are more likely to vote. Second, presented only with second-tier candidates for the governor’s contest, Democrats were unenthused and disproportionately less likely to turn out in October. Third, Democrats disproportionately, especially blacks, have been dispersed from Jefferson, St. Bernard, and Orleans Parishes by the 2005 disasters and, while their names remain on the rolls, are highly unlikely to participate in elections. While the dropoff in total vote in Jefferson was less than 10 percent or about 11,000 for governor, it was off almost 42,000 in Orleans or over a third, and in St. Bernard it plunged by over half or a loss of almost 14,000.

The last factor explains most of the decline and jeopardizes the fortunes of Democrats in statewide elections. For example, given that Republican Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal avoided a general election runoff by around 50,000 votes and that 67,000, majority Democrat, votes were “lost” from the previous primary, it would have been touch-and-go for him to have avoided the runoff had demographic patterns remained the same. This is a long-term problem with which Democrats must deal.

But even in the short run, it could prove costly. The Jindal candidacy and the chance to vote against Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom may have rallied Republicans in the primary. Yet if they retain motivation this could help GOP candidates principally Royal Alexander for attorney general. In 1999, another year when the governor’s race was decided in the primary, while GOP registrants’ rate dropped 17 percent, Democrats’ rate dropped about 20 percent.

If that happens again, not only will Alexander have a real chance at giving the GOP six out of seven statewide offices, but the Republicans also may gain control of the House for the first time in over 130 years.


Anonymous said...

Professor, I believe if people learn more about the last Democratic state-wide candidate, they will be motivated to vote. He epitomizes the good ole boy mentality that has dragged our state down for more than 100 years. I would ask all of your readers to visit so that they may learn, as I have, what this man is really all about. He has years of favors to return and secrets to bury. He will impede our governor-elect at every opportunity. Alexander, however, is cut from exactly the same philosophical cloth as Jindal and will aid and protect him, not try to tear him down and undermine him.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the insights.

As to the above poster, you may need to do a little more research. You apparently have managed to find a partison sponsored sight against Caldwell, but have yet to type "Royal Alexander Louisiana" into a google search. If you bother you will see neither of these guys is clean. In fact, I will go as far as to guess your motives for posting are part of your job with the Alexandre campaign. If not, please go do some more research before you start calling out one side or the other. In fairness, both these guys are damaged goods.