Early voting started yesterday for the November 21, 2015 runoff. What did yesterday’s numbers tell us ?
(1) Higher Turnout – First day turnout was 12% higher than it was in the first day of the primary (it was 42,131 yesterday and 37,611 in the primary);
(2) Somewhat more Democratic – The racial composition of yesterday’s early voters was 68-30% white/black (it was 69-29% white/black after the first day of the 2015 primary). To put these numbers in proper perspective, the Louisiana electorate as of 11/1/2015 was 66-31% white/black.
For additional perspective (which is why we said “somewhat Democratic”): while black turnout was up relative to the primary (white turnout was up 11%, black turnout was up 13%, and Asian/Hispanic turnout was up 45%), Republican turnout was up as well: 16% more Republicans voted yesterday than on the first day of the primary. And the partisan composition of yesterday’s early voting was 51-35% Democratic/Republican, which is a bit more Republican than the 52-34% Democrat/Republican figure from the first day of the primary early voting.
(3) The cities are voting – First day early voting increased in 23 parishes and decreased in 41 parishes relative to the primary. And the 23 parishes where early voting increased were generally urban parishes, with some of these urban parishes’ seeing spectacular increases in turnout: 85% increase in East Baton Rouge Parish, 74% in Orleans, 68% in Ascension, 38% in Jefferson, and 34% in Caddo.
If we look at the primary vote of the parishes that saw increases and decreases in their turnout, the parishes that saw an increase in their early voting voted 42-24% for Edwards over Vitter, while the parishes that saw a decrease in their early voting voted 35-22% for Edwards over Vitter. In other words, Edwards gets a mild benefit from yesterday’s increased early voting turnout.
(4) JMC’s “bottom line” – What do yesterday’s early vote numbers tell us about projected voter turnout ? While our predictions will be more accurate as we accumulate more early voting data throughout the upcoming week (in person early voting runs from November 7-14), we do know that in the primary, 21% of Louisianians voted early – a record. Assuming a 21% early vote in the runoff, yesterday’s early vote numbers suggest a 42-43% runoff turnout (it was 39% in the primary).