Last year, Democratic Mary Landrieu, lost her seat to Republican Bill Cassidy. So, far, in all recent polls, Edwards has a strong lead and likely to be in the runoffs, but, those are just polls, not turnout.
A review of early voting data indicates that early voting for the 2015 election cycle was down when compared to early voting from the November 2014 election. Turnout was 7.7% for this cycle, a 10% decline from the numbers for the November 2014 election. (See Table 1 in Power Point). That decrease, however, varied across voter registration categories. White turnout was down by less than 1% but African-American turnout fell by 25%. In fact, the difference in the rate of turnout across the two elections for African-Americans was twice that found for any other category of registered voters. As for gender, male participation dropped by just under 9% while there were 10% fewer women. When it came to party registration, 4% fewer Republicans showed up to vote while Democrats experienced a 13% drop in early voters compared to last year. By all indications blacks, women, and Democrats did not have the same level of motivation and enthusiasm to vote early as did whites and Republicans.
Table 2 in the Power Point again illuminates the Republican advantage in early voting. The ratio of Democrats to Republicans was calculated for registered voters and for early voters on each day of early voting. The ratio for whites to blacks was calculated as well. Table 2 shows that there were 1.64 registered Democrats for every registered Republican. That figure drops to 1.54 on the first day of early voting and continues its downward trend until the last of early voting where there were 1.40 Democratic early voters for every Republican early voter. The same trend holds for white and black voters. There are 2.05 registered whites for every African-American registered voter, but there are 2.66 white early voters for each African-American early voter.
The chart on the third Power Point compares the composition of the early vote electorate with that of registered voters. For example, it reveals that 64% of registered voters are white and that 71% of early voters are white. Conversely, blacks comprise 31% of registered voters but are only 27% of early voters. In short, whites are overrepresented among early voters while blacks are underrepresented. Both men and women are equally represented among early voters. Democrats enjoy a 4% advantage in the early vote electorate at the same time Republicans enjoy an 8% advantage. The Independent/3rd Party folks are poorly represented among early voters as are non-black minorities.
One of the story lines in the 2015 campaign has been the lack of interest by voters. The numbers from early voting provide some objective evidence to that assertion as a 10% drop is not insignificant. More critically, the drop off was most significant among those voters who are important to the success of a Democratic candidate: African-Americans, women, and registered Democrats. Whites and Republicans were almost as motivated to vote early in this election as they were in 2014. The same cannot be said for Democratic supporters.