In person early voting has concluded, although absentee ballots can still be accepted for several more days. What does the early vote data tell us ?
(1) Consistently higher turnout – Despite Veterans Day’s taking away a day of early voting, early voting averaged 42,978 per day in the runoff, while in the primary, it averaged 30,759 per day. And even with one less day of early voting, the 257,021 runoff turnout was 16% higher than in the primary;
(2) More Democratic – The racial composition of the early voters was 68-30% white/black in the runoff, while at the end of in person early voting in the primary, it was 71-27% white/black. To put these numbers in proper perspective, the Louisiana electorate as of 11/1/2015 was 66-31% white/black. Furthermore, yesterday’s early voting (the last day to early vote in person) was especially Democratic – the racial composition was 60-36% white/black.
To further illustrate the Democratic tilt of early voting, the partisan composition of the early voters was 52-35% Democrat/Republican. At the end of primary early voting, it was 50-36% Democratic.
(3) Larger parishes are early voting more heavily – Early voting has increased in 35 parishes and decreased in 29 parishes relative to the primary. Furthermore, the parishes where early voting increased were generally urban parishes, and some of those urban parishes have seen spectacular increases in turnout: 63% increase in Caddo, 51% in Orleans, 41% in Calcasieu, 37% in Saint Tammany, and 37% in Bossier, just to list a few examples.
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 41-23% 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 the individual parishes where the increases in early voting have occurred.
(4) JMC’s “bottom line” – What do the cumulative three day numbers tell us about projected voter turnout ? In the primary, a record 21% of Louisianians voted early. Assuming a 21% early vote in the runoff, the early vote numbers suggest a 44% runoff turnout (it was 39% in the primary).