Early voting for the Presidential election in Louisiana is underway and has crossed the halfway mark – there are only three days left to early vote in this seven day “season.” Not that the election will conclude on Tuesday, of course: mail in absentee ballots can still be accepted for another week after that, and there is Election Day, which still remains the overwhelming favorite in terms of how Louisianians cast their ballot. Here’s what we have noticed:
Massive early voting turnout
As record breaking as the 2008 early vote was (approximately 292K early voted), early voting has been even higher this year: 184K have early voted, which is a figure 34% higher than it was for a comparable time period in 2008. Given this volume, we think that the final early vote total will be about 350K.
To put this in perspective, below is a map showing three things: (1) those parishes (in red) where the early vote volume, when compared to 2008, exceeds the 2012 statewide average, (2) those parishes (in pink) where the early voting volume exceeds the 2008 early voting volume, (3) those parishes (in blue) where the early voting volume is running behind the 2008 volume.
Stronger Democratic vote than expected
While the conventional wisdom has been that there would be little Democratic enthusiasm this year, the truth is more complicated. In fact, the racial breakdown of 67-30% white/black is identical to where it was after four days of early voting in 2008. But there is another piece to the puzzle here: as high as black turnout was in 2008, it spiked for the last three days of early voting – on the Saturday of early voting in 2008, black participation in early voting surged from 31 to 42% in a single day. Will that happen again this year with little action at the top of the ticket (Louisiana is not on anyone’s target list, nor are the Congressional races as interesting as they were in 2008) ? Stay tuned.
We do wish to add, however, that Republican enthusiasm is up: at this point in time in 2008, the party breakdown was 57-31% Democrat/Republican. Right now, that figure is 50-36% Democratic.
Why do we make a big deal about early voting? When the Legislature essentially established “no fault” early voting several years ago, you now have a noticeable constituency of people who prefer the convenience of early voting, and this constituency has thus far ranged from 10 to 16% – a politician would be foolish to ignore this many voters, especially in a closely contested race. Also, too, early voting numbers are the first ones that are typically reported after polls have closed at 8 PM. Given the unprecedented volume, we can see early voters making up 17-19% of the total vote cast.