Decision 2019: JMC’s Primary Post-Mortem

Now that the primary is over, JMC has some summary thoughts about the primary election results both at the statewide and legislative level.

A “red night” for statewide Republicans – Not only was Governor Edwards forced into a runoff that many pundits thought wasn’t going to happen, but even with an incumbent Democrat who downplayed his Democratic Party affiliation (while publicly noting the nine times he visited the Trump White House), voters by a 52-47% margin chose a Republican candidate (this also includes a 50-48% edge in Governor Edwards’ home of Tangipahoa Parish). In the other statewide races, Republican performance was between 60% (in the Treasurer’s race) and 68% (in the Lt Governor’s race);

A similar “red night” for legislative Republicans Republican successes didn’t stop at the state level. With a substantial number of open seats in both chambers due to term limits, Republicans picked up three House and two Senate seats. Four of those five seats were based in the ancestrally Democratic rural parishes of Allen, Avoyelles, and Evangeline, and these parishes had never before given Republicans legislative candidates serious consideration. Furthermore, Republicans are likely in the runoff to pick up a state House seat in St Mary Parish, while also having a serious shot an unseating an Independent representing the Felicianas who was elected in a special election earlier this year. In other words, the likely legislative membership is a 27-12 Republican Senate and a 69-34 (with 2 Independents) Republican edge in the House, with an additional chance (if they can knock off an Independent incumbent in the Felicianas) to get a 70 member super majority. And to further illustrate the point of Republican dominance, the partisan primary vote for House and Senate races was 64-33% Republican;

Higher turnoutIn the 2015 primary for Governor, 1.14 million (or 39%) turned out to vote. Last night, turnout increased to 45%, for a total turnout of 1.34 million voters. This was a conservative turnout: while 25% of the early vote was black, JMC estimates that due to 35% Election Day turnout in white precincts and 28% Election Day turnout in the black precincts, 27% of last night’s electorate was black. In other words, an estimated total electorate that was 26.5% black, which is on the low side in Louisiana in terms of base Democratic voter intensity;

Early voting gets even more popular – In the October 2015 primary, 235K early voted, and that early vote was 21% of the total vote. For the 2019 primary, a near record 386K early voted, and given the total turnout, it looks like 28% of the vote was cast early – a new record.

Early/Election Day performance – The early vote favored Governor Edwards 45-27% over Ralph Abraham (26% supported Rispone, with 2% favoring another candidate), while Democrats only saw incremental gains from the Election Day vote (47% Edwards, 28% for Rispone, 22% for Abraham, and 3% for other candidates). Furthermore, JMC estimates that Governor Edwards received 91% of the black vote and 31% of the white vote – respectable numbers, except that black turnout overall wasn’t very strong.