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Edwards on defensive; Rispone wins debate

Finally, some body blows were landed in the final statewide televised Louisiana gubernatorial forum of 2019, to the chagrin of Democrats.

As always, participants had differing objectives. For incumbent Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, he needed to keep on dancing fast, trying his best to explain away, if not put nausea-inducing spin on, Louisiana’s worst, if not the worst, economic performance in the nation during his term, induced by tax increases well beyond necessary for the additional spending (that increased almost twice the rate of inflation in terms of state dollars used) he supported. He also needed to dodge whatever of a host of things not related to economics that his opponents Republicans Rep. Ralph Abraham and Eddie Rispone could work them into the mix.

As for the GOP challengers, they had a two-front battle on their hands. Each had to figure out a way to push past the other into an almost-certain runoff and do it in a way that would damage Edwards. Whichever can do both of these in the forum and then amplify that over the next five-plus weeks can become Louisiana’s 57th governor.


Colleges should avoid appearance of favoritism

Several Louisiana higher education institutions may have put their thumbs on the scale to aid anti-reform candidates in Board of Elementary and Secondary Education contests.

From the middle of September on, candidate forums were conducted across the state for the seven contests on the ballot this Saturday. These were conducted by a recently-formed interest group called the Louisiana Public Schools Coalition, comprised of unions and special interests tied to district superintendents and school boards -- all of whom have a history of resisting a reform agenda that emphasizes measured classroom achievement, educational choice, and commitment to escalating standards.

The forums (some of which were recorded) naturally were imbalanced in that the questions came from the organizers (although not all were moderated by people associated with the organizers) and from members in an audience typically stacked with sympathizers, if not affiliates, of the special interests behind the group. There’s nothing wrong with that; candidates know what they get into and even if proceedings slant to promote certain views, useful information for voters can come from that. (Not all pro-reform incumbents attended the forums.)


Blacks unenthusiastic about rehiring Edwards

A reason Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ reelection chances, according to early voting totals, have started to slip away is an understandable lower enthusiasm in the black community for him.

Not only did early voting data for the Oct. 12 election show that Republicans disproportionatelyparticipated relative to Democrats, so did whites relative to blacks. Across the ten most recent statewide elections spanning 2014-18, on average 8.51 percent of whites and 7.06 percent of blacks voted early. For early voting concluding last weekend, the numbers respectively were 14.35 and 10.18, with the gap going from a past mean of 1.45 to this election’s 4.17.

Historically across the ten elections, come election day the ratio of early to election day votes for whites has been 4.62 and for blacks 4.8, meaning to a small degree that whites disproportionately use early voting compared to blacks, so that ameliorates somewhat the impact of early voting in carrying through to election day results. Consider also that the historic overall turnout gap has been about 5 percent higher turnout for whites, or about 3.5 times higher than that for early voting.


Caddo elections figure into statue removal

As Caddo Parish sinks deeper into the political and legal morass involving its decision to remove the courthouse’s Confederate monument, election year politics come more firmly into play.

After the Parish Commission voted in 2017 to move the United Daughters of the Confederacy monument on the grounds since the early part of the 20th century then last year a federal court decided the parish owned the ground underneath the memorial which an appellate court upheld this year, in August the Commission sent the UDC chapter a demand letter to move the statuary in 90 days.

An analysis by Republican state Rep. Thomas Carmody, acting independently of his office and unpaid by the parties involved, told the Commission it used a faulty interpretation of the state’s Civil Code that might entice a suit should it try to move the monument. To add insult to injury, the UDC told the Commission to go pound sand.


Early voting numbers signal Edwards defeat

Early voting statistics for the Oct. 12 Louisiana statewide general election are in, with anecdotal reports based on figures earlier in the process leading to conjecture of a Republican advantage. Those forecasts appear accurate, the final early voting data show.

To determine whether any party’s candidates have an advantage, data from the previous five years of contests with a statewide elective office on them can be used. This yields ten data points. For each election, the proportion of early voting compared to total registration and final turnout percentage may be computed to make a ratio of total turnout percent to early voting percent. An average of these total/early proportions can create a benchmark to forecast total turnout.

Democrats have averaged 39.26 percent total turnout while Republicans have averaged 43.59 percent. In terms of early voting over this span, those means respectively are 8.47 and 10.14. Thus, the ratio for Democrats, is 4.65; for Republicans, it’s 4.35. This shows in recent history that of those who vote Democrats in comparison to Republicans disproportionately don’t vote early, with early votes making up 21.5 percent of their total while for the GOP its early voters comprise 23 percent of that total.