The Corner

Louisiana Postmortem

A well-placed Louisiana Republican friend writes: “RE: Landrieu-Terrell. I guess the short answer is that All the President’s Horses and All the President’s Men … could only bring the candidate so far. While there are in Louisiana some motivated-ideological Republicans/conservatives like myself for whom it was enough that anyone was on the ballot against Landrieu, the truth is most Bayou Staters do put a high price on personality, and Terrell, by almost unanimous reputation even among state GOPers, has none, or worse. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard fellow GOPers ask me if I agreed with them ‘on a purely personal level’ that Terrell is ‘loathsome.’ If GOPers had been able to field even a moderately popular and personable opponent, Landrieu would have been toast. But there’s probably a bigger lesson for the parties: the Dem turnout machine still works, as evidenced even more by the surprising result in the 5th Congressional District [where a Democrat squeaked out a win despite a heavily conservative electorate]. So if following Nov 5th, the internal chin-stroking at the DNC is over whether the party needs totally to revamp its issues, views, message (i.e. — veer sharply leftward) or merely work more on tactics (communication and turnout), our little election will be an argument for the latter. But either interpretation might be wrong due to Louisiana’s uniqueness — both conservative AND populist, and because of the open primary, not oriented to party politics at all. So Landrieu’s own take may be half right, that the election sent a signal to Washington against ‘labels.’ Because the other half of the equation is Louisiana’s equally unique (awful) voting system (the Dec 7 run-off), which meant that the Dems’ total turnout machine could be focused exclusively on one state. One might say, well, so could the GOP’s. But there’s always been a stark difference, to put it mildly, between the respective efficacy of GOP GOTV phone calls and Dem vans and street money. Long story short: Dec 7th proved Dem machine can still get it done if there’s nothing thinning out their resources; Nov 5th showed, however, that they need more than mere ‘tactics’ when competitive races in so many places and generally high turnout overall means there’s only so much street money to go around.”

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