Monday, 16 November 2015 10:00
UNO's Dr. Chervenak says early voting not good news for Vitter campaign
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chervenak photoEd Chervenak, UNO Political Scientist and Professor has provided details concerning early voting in Louisiana. While the election is now six days away and things can absolutely change on the ground, the early vote does show a stronger turnout for those who might likely vote for Jon Bel Edwards.

Here are his comments, forwarded to Bayoubuzz.com

Overall turnout for early voting for the runoff election was 8.9% compared to the 7.7% early voter turnout for the primary. The total number of early voters in the runoff was 16% higher than it was from early voting in the primary, despite one fewer day of early voting due to the polling sites being closed for Veteran’s Day.

The number of African-American early voters in the runoff was up by 28% compared to early voting in the primary while the number of white early voters went up by 10%. In the primary early vote, 6.6% of African-Americans turned out to vote. That figure increased by 1.8 percentage points to 8.4% in the early voting for the runoff. White turnout went from 8.5% in the primary early voting to 9.4% in early voting for the runoff. In essence, the increase in African-American turnout was double that for whites. In addition, African-Americans comprised nearly 30% of the total number of early voters for the runoff compared to 26.7% of the total number of early voters in the primary. While blacks saw their proportion grow among early voters in the runoff, the percentage of whites that comprised the overall number of early voters in the runoff fell by 3.2 percentage points.

When it came to party, the number of registered Democrats in early voting for the runoff increased by 19% compared to early voting in the primary while the number of registered Republicans increased by 11%. Registered Democrats also increased their participation rate in early voting in the runoff by 1.6 percentage points compared to early voting in the primary, while registered Republicans saw a 1.1 percentage increase in early voting turnout from the primary to the runoff. Registered Democrats also comprised a larger percentage of the total vote in the runoff early voting population than they did in the primary. They comprised 52% of all early voters in the runoff compared to 50.4% of all early voters in the primary. Conversely, Republicans saw their proportion of early voters drop from the primary to the runoff. They comprised 36% of the primary early vote electorate, but fell to 34.6% of the runoff early voter population.

While early voting was up 16% statewide, there was variation across regions of the state. The New Orleans Metro area experienced the largest increase as 27% more early voters showed up for the runoff than for the primary. In fact, 45% of the statewide increase in early voters came from the New Orleans Metro area. Next was the Florida-River parishes, which saw a 19% increase in early voters in the runoff. Acadiana had a 11% increase in early voters in the runoff, while North Louisiana lagged behind with a 5% increase in early voting in the runoff.

If we dare make any assumptions from the early voting numbers it would be that trend in the numbers are more favorable to the Democratic candidate John Bel Edwards. The fact that African-American and registered Democrat have boosted their numbers to a greater extent than whites and registered Republicans benefits Edwards.

As for the regional variation in early voting, it is difficult to discern any real pattern or trend that advantages one candidate over the other. While the Metro New Orleans area has seen the largest increase in early voting for the runoff, that region contains both the most Democratic parish in the state (Orleans) as well as the most Republican parish in the state (St. Tammany). The Florida-River Parishes is where Edwards’ home base is located so we can assume that an increase in early voting there is beneficial to his campaign. I’m not sure what to say about Acadiana. For Northern Louisiana, which is considered to be the most conservative area of the state, the small increase in early voting for the runoff cannot be good news for the Vitter campaign. 

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