Early voting in the October 12 “jungle primary” between incumbent Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, and two Republican candidates ended on Saturday, and the turnout is massive, particularly among Republicans and Independents.
“As of last night, 374,190 Louisianians either early voted by person or by mail in ballot (340,480 in person, and 33,710 mail in ballots). To put this number in perspective, this is the highest early voting turnout EVER for a non-Presidential election, and is the second highest early voting turnout EVER (only the 2016 Presidential election has seen a higher in person + absentee voting turnout with 531,555 early votes),” Louisiana-based JMC Analytics reported on Sunday:
Why has turnout been so high ? Given that the 374K is 59% higher than the 235K who early voted in the 2015 statewide election cycle, JMC believes that external factors are present. Last year, reports of strong early voting across the country (and, to some extent, energized conservatives after the Kavanaugh hearings) created a 315K turnout in an otherwise sleepy election cycle here.
This time, the thought is that Democrats’ actions towards impeaching President Trump (in a state where he still remains fairly popular) have energized conservative voters: compared to 2015,
“Republican turnout volume is up 84%, while Independent turnout is up 80% and Democratic turnout is up 36%,” JMC concluded (emphasis added by JMC.)
Most recent polls show Edwards just shy of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff election in November, with Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA) and businessman Eddie Rispone, both Republicans, battling for the second place spot to qualify for the runoff election ballot.
On Tuesday, President Trump came out swinging in support of both Republicans on the ballot in the Louisiana gubernatorial jungle primary with this tweet:
REPUBLICANS of Louisiana, it is really important for you to go out and vote on October 12th for either Eddie Rispone or Ralph Abraham (both Great), which will lead to a runoff against….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 1, 2019
That presidential engagement, combined with conservative reaction to the impeachment inquiry announced last month by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), along with a full court press from the RNC, Vice President Pence and Donald Trump, Jr. appears to have energized Republicans in Louisiana to turn out at the polls.
On Saturday, Vice President Pence held a rally in Kenner, Louisiana, as the Monroe Star News reported:
Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy connected Louisiana’s upcoming governor’s race to the 2020 presidential election as they rallied support for two GOP candidates challenging Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.
“Louisiana said yes to Trump in 2016 and we need Louisiana to send a Republican to the governor’s office and for Louisiana to vote for four more years of President Donald Trump,” Pence told an audience of 250 to 300 supporters Saturday at the Pontchartrain Center.
“It all starts here,” said Pence, who never mentioned Edwards by name. “It all starts now.”
This coming week, Donald Trump, Jr. will also visit Louisiana to rally Republican voters to turn out on the October 12 “jungle primary” election day.
“Donald Trump Jr. will . . . headline a special Louisiana Republican Party event on Monday in Lafayette,” KATC reported:
The LAGOP says the event aims to build momentum for Republican turnout on Election Day, Saturday, October 12.
Trump Jr. will be joined at the October 7 event by his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle and Republican gubernatorial candidates Congressman Ralph Abraham and businessman Eddie Rispone.
State Attorney General Jeff Landry and other Republican leaders are expected to attend.
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel also weighed in on Twitter, criticizing Edwards and encouraging Republicans in Louisiana to turn out and vote:
Early voting starts today in Louisiana.
Don’t let John Bel Edwards fool you – he does not support @realDonaldTrump’s agenda.
Louisiana needs to elect a Republican governor to work with President Trump to turn the state around.
Vote Republican today! #lagov
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) September 28, 2019
While some of the increase in early voting by Republicans and independents in the Louisiana gubernatorial October 12 “jungle primary” election may be attributable to fundamental changes in voting behavior from election day to early voting, the massive 84 percent increase for GOP voters and 80 percent increase for Independent voters, when contrasted with the much lower 36 percent increase for Democrat voters, suggests that Gov. Edwards may have a difficult time surpassing the 50 percent margin he needs to avoid a November runoff election against either Abraham or Rispone.