Early voting for the Presidential election in Louisiana concluded yesterday afternoon. Even though mail in absentee ballots can still be accepted for another week, it’s interesting to see what happened with early voting, as it is becoming an increasingly popular way for Louisianians to vote Here’s what we have noticed:
Record breaking early voting turnout
In 2008, a record was set: approximately 292K early voted. As of last night, that record was shattered, as 341K have early voted. This is a figure 29% higher than it was for a comparable time period in 2008. Since mail in ballots can still be accepted for another week, we think that the final early vote total will be about 370K.
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 even the 2012 statewide average (which was 29% higher than 2008) , (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 the early voters thus far has been 64-33% white/black. To put this number in proper context, current voter registration is 64-31% white/black. However, the 2008 early vote (at the close of “in person” voting) was an unprecedented 61-36% white/black. In other words, there is still considerable enthusiasm, but we also believe that the Democrats are “front loading” their turnout by encouraging their supporters to vote now. It was no accident that President Obama became the first President to cast his vote early.
We do wish to add, however, that Republican enthusiasm is up over 2008: at this point in time in 2008, the party breakdown was 58-29% Democrat/Republican. As of last night, that figure was 51-34% Democratic.
There is one more thing to consider – the mail in ballots which are still coming in are typically whiter than the in person vote, so these early/absentee numbers will change a little between now and Election Day.
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 18-19% of the total vote cast.