Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu and state Democrats have convinced less than 15,000 of the 269,000 black voters, or about 5.5 percent, who usually do not vote in midterms to cast their ballot in the early-voting period so far.
Twenty-eight percent of the 154,000 early votes cast as of Saturday evening were cast by voters who usually do not vote in midterm elections, according to Louisiana political analyst John Couvillon.
The information released by the state reveals that 14,802 of those ballots were cast by black voters who have not voted since November of 2012 (they skipped the state’s December 2012 Senate runoff and the state-level elections in 2013). Nationally, 93 percent of black voters in 2012 supported President Obama, which suggests that Landrieu banked about 14,000 votes that typically elude Democrats in off-year elections. In 2012, 617,000 black voters went to the polls in Louisiana, after just 348,000 black voters turned out in 2010. Per Couvillon’s analysis of the early-voting figures, about 254,000 of those voters have ignored Obama’s pleas.
“When you’re talking about a likely electorate of 1.3 to 1.4 million, she got a one percent advantage from the early vote,” Couvillon, founder of JMC Analytics and Polling, tells National Review Online.
President Obama has tried to drive turnout among the black voters who typically only vote in presidential elections by emphasizing how Landrieu and other Democrats have supported him, despite the risk that such statements will make the most enthusiastic voters oppose the red-state incumbents.
“A lot of the states that are contested this [fall] are states that I didn’t win,” Obama told Al Sharpton recently. “And so some of the candidates there, you know, it is difficult for them to have me in the state because the Republicans will use that to try to fan Republican turnout. The bottom line is, though, these are all folks who vote with me — they have supported my agenda in Congress.”
That doesn’t guarantee that Landrieu loses, though, as voters tune in for the expected runoff between the incumbent and Representative Bill Cassidy (R., La.). Whereas you might expect a drop-off in turnout during a runoff, Louisiana voters have come to regard the runoff as the real competition between Democrats and Republicans.
“Primaries in Louisiana are kind of seen as a preseason,” Timmy Teepell, a political adviser to Governor Bobby Jindal (R., La.), tells NRO. “Republicans should not underestimate Mary Landrieu.”