The abnormally low turnout for the 2015 Louisiana state general elections seems mainly a consequence of campaign-specific factors more than for longer term, secular reasons.
Unofficially, turnout for the governor’s race only reached 38.5 percent, with lower figures for other offices and ballot items. It does barely exceed the 2011 figure by about a point, but that was a 50-point blowout resulting in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s reelection. With four strong candidates, this year’s was supposed to excite the electorate into participating at a much higher rate.
This result has led to much musing about the causes of this quiescence, not all of it informed or accurate. Contrary to one report, which claimed that vote totals in gubernatorial contests have declined every election since 1983, that’s true only insofar as general elections. Runoffs typically see higher totals, because some Louisiana voters treat the general election as if it were (which it often is mistakenly called) a primary election and aren’t motivated enough to join the fun until the runoff.