The small, but most significant in decades, fiscal reform on Louisiana’s ballot this weekend will falter or survive on the basis of differential turnout.
Amendment #2 would reduce income taxes for most individual filers, raising them only for the small number who benefit substantially from allowing deduction of federal income taxes. Likely every single lower-income filer who pays any income tax will see a reduction.
Yet that isn’t good enough for the political left that alleges to champion this demographic group. Leftist elites despair that the change would reduce slightly the amount of revenue absconded by state government and that it could make more difficult raising income taxes on the middle class and above in the future. As a result, they launched a campaign to prevent passage of #2.
Primarily aimed at constituencies that vote reflexively for Democrats, given the widespread benefits the change would bring that a solid majority of state residents would support, they hope to keep their base in the dark about the benefits while whipping them up to hit the polls disproportionately against the amendment. They have some wind in their sails that could bring this plan to fruition.
As it is, registrants of the parish most likely to have themselves led around like this, Orleans – the state’s third most populated and also third in registered voters – will have by far the most incentive to turn out with a full slate of city elections, including for parish-level offices as well and a state House contest. This is why prognosticators estimate, from early voting numbers, about 35 percent turnout there while statewide they think will come in around 16 percent.
Moreover, Orleans has a registration advantage. It has one of the highest proportion of its population, just about 70 percent, registered to vote. Also working in the favor of #2 naysayers, besides Orleans’ extreme deviance compared to the rest of the state in giving just 15 percent of the vote for the GOP presidential slate in 2020, the two most populous parishes, East Baton Rouge and Jefferson respectively gave 42.5 and 54.7 of their vote to that slate, and the sixth-most, Caddo, 45.8 percent (with registration there among the highest in the state). Put another way, these four parishes with just under a third of the state’s electorate gave 58.8 percent of their vote to the Democrat ticket in 2020.
Not much else is on the ballot in these parishes outside of Orleans, but if these numbers translate directly into voting on #2 (mostly; enough Orleans folks likely will realize the measure’s merits so as collectively to give at least several percentage points higher approval to it than they did for the Republican slate), and adjusted for boosted Orleans turnout – that is, doubling the number of votes it contributes – that means they will comprise 40 percent of the state’s electorate rejecting the measure by almost 36,700. This means the rest of the state will have to produce a 56 percent majority to eke out passage.
Amendment proponents will get a little help. Early voting in some greater GOP-voting parishes of larger population is higher than in the rest of the state’s, apparently owing to, respectively, a city council race in Bossier City, a state Senate race in Calcasieu, and a raft of parish-wide propositions in St. Tammany (all voted for the GOP ticket by at least two-thirds).
Still, despite the seeming slam-dunk nature of the amendment, a leftist strategy that saturates Caddo, East Baton Rouge, and especially Orleans might carry the day. As such, some interest groups have undertaken a direct mail campaign urging support. They need to keep up the pressure until 8 PM Saturday or the state’s greatest hope in some time for meaningful fiscal reform may slip through its fingers.