The general election is now six days away. In person early voting has concluded (although mail in ballots can still be accepted until Friday). We have been following the the early voting numbers, and what we’ve noticed so far is as follows:
High Early Voting Volume: This election season saw a strong push by parties to maximize their vote this week, and the early voting was the second highest volume ever since the legislature liberalized early voting. In fact, the nearly 160,000 who early voted was only exceeded by the 267,000 who early voted in the Presidential race;
Racial breakdown: 22% of the early voters were black. The Democratic Party infrastructure in the rural parishes made a major push to get blacks to early vote on both Saturdays, and as a result, you have a racial breakdown that was 6% less white than the 2007 early voting, although the 22% figure is comparable to the 2010 Senate race;
Party breakdown: The party composition of the early voters was 52-36% Democrat/Republican. These percentages mirror the 2007 early vote;
Projected turnout: Because of the expected low voter turnout, and the concerted effort by both parties to get their vote in before Election Day, if we were to assume the early vote represented 10% of the final vote like it did in the past, you’d be looking at a 56% voter turnout – a turnout figure we have not seen in an “off year” election since 1991. Therefore, we are modifying our turnout assumption: we believe that early voting will represent 15% of the final vote, and that figure would compute to a more logical 37% statewide voter turnout;
As part of our early vote analysis, we would like to show you graphically where the early voting has been the strongest. If you assume that early voting will represent 15% of the final vote, those parishes where the estimated turnout will be 50-69% are classified as “high early voting volume”, while parishes where the estimated turnout will be 70% of above are classified as “very high early voting volume.”
Why do we pay so much attention to the early vote ? When the Legislature essentially established “no fault” early voting several years ago, more and more people have chosen to early vote, so a constituency of at least 10% of the total vote is something a politician would be foolish to ignore – especially in a closely contested race. And it is these numbers which are reported several minutes after polls close at 8 PM.