Couvillon, President and CEO of JMC Analytics and Polling made those remarks in the election post-mortem with Christopher Tidmore, political editor for the Louisiana Weekly Newspaper and a WRNO Radio weekend talk radio show co-host.
So why consider the 2017 Treasurer's race one that got no respect or one that was most peculiar?
The victor of the statewide runoff election, Schroder, is a Republican, former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives. He bested African American Democrat Edwards, a talented but virtually unknown politician, 55.74% to a respectable 44.26%. This was a very respectable result for Edwards, especially considering the substantial differences in overall name recognition, campaign funding and political party support.
For a better perspective, let’s look at some recent Louisiana election history.
By comparison, very well-known African American Democrat, former State Senator and ex-US Congressman, Cleo Fields, only received 36% in a 1995 gubernatorial runoff against Mike Foster, who garnered 64% of the vote.
Also, by comparison, in 1999, Foster walloped the black and former Democratic Louisiana legislator and Congressman William “Bill” Jefferson. Foster scored 66.17% of the vote, Jefferson only 29.53% in the primary.
Fast forward to 2016. Public Service Commissioner and former gubernatorial candidate from North Louisiana Foster Campbell only capture 39% against State Treasurer John Kennedy in the recent US Senate contest.
So, what was the underpinning of this “most peculiar”, Rodney Dangerfield Louisiana election? In short, a race lacking interest and votes, yet, an equally dispassionate New Orleans Mayor’s race which skewed the statewide numbers.
Below is a partial transcript of part 1 of the Facebook Live interview I conducted with Couvillon and Tidmore.
After reading the transcript, do please watch the rest of this video segment by starting the video at the 5:55 point. We discuss this strange race and the New Orleans impact.
In the near future, we will put up more of the full interview covering the Treasurer’s and Orleans Parish election.
COUVILLON: This was this was truly a unique election in that New Orleans had an outsized influence on the statewide results given that this was the first time you had ever had a combination of number one municipal elections in New Orleans combined with number two a statewide election that not many people were interested in. So Orleans Parish which normally would have been eight to nine percent of the statewide vote turned in 22 percent in the runoff which by the way was up from 19 percent--and just to illustrate how massive this difference was in terms of the results on the outcome, I had taken the 2016 Senate runoff and pretended for a second that 22 percent of the results or 22 percent of the voters came from New Orleans, in that situation John Kennedy's support would have dropped from 61 to 55 percent, which is nearly identical to what of course John Schroder got Saturday night and to further titillate you with just how massive New Orleans influence was on the statewide vote, if we had gone all the way back to 2014, and made Orleans Parish 22 percent rather than eight percent of the statewide vote, Mary Landrieu would have been reelected by eighty five hundred votes. So when you have one parish that comprised 22 percent of the electorate and Derek Edwards got 80 percent of that, which by the way I calculated he got that 80 percent by getting 53 percent of the white vote which means that obviously he picked up some Neil Riser votes and, in addition, of course, he's going to get unanimous black vote--so that's what I found interesting in the treasurer's race was that it was closer than people with stereotypically would have thought it to be.
SABLUDOWSKY: Christopher, based on your evaluation in numbers, were you surprised that race was actually close
TIDMORE: Well here's what one of the things that senior Democrats, and of course I am NOT a political demographer and pollster like John is and lack his expertise I'm a lower form of life I'm a reporter, and when I when I deal with these things a lot of Democrats we're coming out and saying that-- Derek Edwards--this is way back before the primary he was running, ithey wanted to keep him out of the race because he'd only get 35-40 percent of the vote, he'd find a really low threshold, Edwards surprised a lot of people. Not so much as his scenario that he was selling, that because of a high municipal turnout in Orleans and the fact that there was virtually nothing on the ballot in so many other areas, and that those few places that did have something else on the ballot like Jefferson Parish with its millage election, was gonna to out-right bring Democrats out, he was selling a narrative that he could win this race against John Schroeder. As we talked on Friday, I thought that was unlikely. But he was right that he was a much more serious candidate because of the political dynamics of this unusual election season. And New Orleans really did deliver for him. A lot of white Democrats who came out in favor of Latoya Cantrell and to some extent Desiree Charbonnet, actually voted for Derek Edwards, as John pointed out. And so he was a pretty mainstream candidate--it says something that an African-American candidate can do better than say, half a generation ago, Cleo Fields or Bill Jefferson did running for governor.
COUVILLON: The other thing that was interesting too that contributed to Derek Edwards as showing, was--I would call the treasurer's race, for a lack of a better or more articulate term, the Rodney Dangerfield race, as in it couldn't get any respect, let me give you some specific numbers to illustrate what I mean about not getting any respect--in 26 parishes, the treasurer's race was the only thing on the ballot. In 38 more parishes, the treasurer shared the ballot with other parish wide issues--which typically were taxes-- in the case of New Orleans it was municipal--the mayor's runoff--what I found interesting though, and this honestly is the first time I've ever seen this happen, is that in 11 of those 38 parishes where the treasurer's race was sharing a parish wide ballot with something else, in 11 of those parishes, less people voted for the treasurer's race than they did for down ballot items like taxes in the mayor's race. I have honestly never seen that happen. In other words, when you're talking about-- just use one specific example, approximately 81 thousand in Orleans Parish voted for treasurer and 85,000 voted for the mayor's race, I saw that pattern replicate itself attend other parishes, and I found that quite interesting because you would never expect the down-ballot race to be outperforming the treasurer's race ,but that just shows how little interest that there was in this race. And incidently the other thing too, to add to what Christopher was saying about the narrative, I was looking at black and white turnout in all 64 parishes, the thing that fascinated me was--both white and black turnout were up in New Orleans relative to the primary. Black turnout however in Orleans Parish was up 12 percent, but, in the other 63 parishes, white turnout dropped 16 percent, black turnout actually increased in those other sixty three parishes relative to what it was in the primary, so what I'm getting out here is that all the stars were aligning for Derrick Edwards--and he ended up getting almost exactly the same share the vote that Kip Holden did and his lieutenant governor's race two years ago, although Kip had one advantage that Derrick didn't and that was being at the time a popular mayor of Baton Rouge, which of course is the epicenter of a media market covering 20% of the state, that gave Kip some name recognition but Derrick had an advantage in that besides the New Orleans mayor's race, he was the only Democrat in race, and he had the last name that was Edwards.