The Louisiana Lieutenant Governor’s runoff was yet another example of the Republicans’ establishing an electoral beachhead in the midst of an anti Obama/Democratic wave that affected elections here in Louisiana. It didn’t hurt, either, that the Republicans had a familiar and well funded candidate in the race: Secretary of State Jay Dardenne, who has not lost an election since 1987 (and even in that race, he lost by less than 300 votes out of 25,000 votes cast).
The race essentially was settled in the October primary, as 64% of those voting chose a Republican candidate, and the Republican “also rans” quickly fell in line behind Dardenne in the runoff. However, the results need to be viewed through the prism of the Senate race between Vitter and Melancon which was also on the November ballot (discussion of that race here).
Though both Vitter and Dardenne received 57% of the overall vote and 73% of the white vote, each candidate appealed differently to voters on either side of the “Cypress curtain” (explained here). The more moderate Baton Rouge and New Orleans media markets gave Vitter a 54-41% margin and Dardenne a larger 56-44% lead. However, while Vitter carried the parishes west of the Atchafalaya 60-34%, Dardenne received a slightly reduced 58-42%, with a drop-off from the Vitter percentage of 5% or more in seven parishes. We believe that in this part of the state, the “Moon Griffon factor” (Moon is a conservative talk radio host whose show has a substantial following west of the Atchafalaya) was at play, since Moon was one of few conservatives who not only railed against what he believed were deficiencies in Dardenne’s voting record, but he crossed party lines to endorse Fayard in the runoff.
Just like East Baton Rouge/Orleans Parishes were the “silver lining” for Charlie Melancon, we saw a similar dynamic at play in the Lt Governor’s race. In East Baton Rouge, Dardenne only received 55% of the vote in his home parish (where he has been well known for several decades) and 24% of the vote in Orleans Parish. This level of support is actually a huge drop-off for Dardenne compared to his prior performances there in 2006 and 2007. While Election Day “get out the vote” activities by the Fayard campaign partially explain the drop-off, we also think that Dardenne’s running to the right in the runoff cost him some moderate support that he had in past elections. Overall, however, this drop-off in support in these two parishes was not significant enough to change the results, because the Republican wave and unified Republican support was more than enough to carry Dardenne through to victory.
Below are the Lt Governor results by parish and by Congressional district, with those results’ being shown “side by side” against the Senate results.