Political scientist labels Louisiana the ‘least-interested electorate I’ve ever seen’ – Louisiana Illuminator

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Forty years ago, the charismatic former governor of Louisiana, Edwin Edwards Incumbent David Tren Waldo A gubernatorial primary to return to the state’s top office after a four-year hiatus.

Edwards, a populist and Democrat, received 62% of the vote to the Republican incumbent’s 36%. image of trine, Maybe too boring for Louisiana., never fully recovered. Later in life he ran for public office but never won another campaign.

In the year By 2023 standards, however, Trane did not fare so well in the polls.

In October 1983, Trane was defeated by Edwards by 586,000 votes. Last month, Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry won the governor’s race in the primary by just 548,000 votes — 38,000 fewer than Trinh but with 52% of the vote.

Louisiana’s 2023 statewide election cycle resulted in record low voter turnout. In the year In the 15 gubernatorial primaries and runoffs since 1979, the average turnout was about 1.4 million, but 1.06 million people voted in Landry’s race.

“This is one of the most apathetic and disinterested voters I’ve ever seen,” said Joshua Stockley, a political science professor at the University of Louisiana-Monroe.

The Nov. 18 nominations for attorney general, state treasurer and secretary of state are smaller than statewide races in the past 40 years. This month, the number of people who voted in those contests failed to exceed 700,000.

By comparison, more than 717,000 people voted in the 2007 attorney general runoff, which James “Buddy” Caldwell won, even though he was the only statewide candidate on the November ballot that year. In the year In the 1987 race for attorney general and secretary of state, a gubernatorial race at the top of the ticket received more than 957,000 votes.

The only gubernatorial race with lower voter turnout in the past four decades was in 2011. It is in 2011, considering the low participation of professionals. They considered incumbent Gov. Bobby Jindal a lock to win a second term in the primary that year, and Democrats didn’t even bother to field a major candidate. Only 1.02 million people voted.

The highest turnout in recent gubernatorial elections was the 1991 election between Edwin Edwards and white supremacist David Duke, a Republican and member of the Klu Klux Klan. About 1.73 million people voted in that election.

The 2023 election was supposed to create a lot of momentum. For the first time in more than two decades, statewide elective positions were open. No incumbents are running for governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state treasurer or insurance commissioner.

Voter interest, however, has been tempered by the “complete collapse of the Democratic Party,” said Pearson Cross, a political scientist at the University of Louisiana-Monroe’s School of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

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Under former state Transportation Secretary Sean Wilson, Democrats rallied around a candidate, but Wilson failed to deliver enough voters to get into a runoff with Landry as expected. While voter turnout has been low across the board this year, black residents, who make up the bulk of the Democrats’ voter base, are worried.

State Democratic Party Chairwoman Katie Bernhardt said getting Democrats to vote has been a challenge for her party because most legislative races in mostly black districts are uncontested, giving voters incentives to go to the polls in the primary. Candidates in the state have also struggled to raise money, she said.

“If you don’t have money in the bank, it doesn’t work,” she said.

Democrats failed to field a full slate of candidates in statewide races, leaving the race for agriculture commissioner or insurance commissioner entirely to Republicans.

“When you have intense two-party competition, change is encouraged,” Stockley said. “When one party is perceived as uncompetitive on the board, it can influence both parties not to vote.”

Landry’s support from the Louisiana Republican Party over other GOP candidates in 2022 could also have an impact, Cross said. The party can help candidates effectively raise and spend campaign funds. Landry’s lock on the state party’s endorsement made it more difficult for other Republican candidates to compete.

“Jeff Landry has marched to the crown since the state GOP endorsed him early,” Cross said. “At this time, people felt no reason to go to the polls.”

Cross and Stockley also note that national political infighting may have caused voter fatigue to trickle down to the state and local levels. Donald Trump’s baseless claims in the 2020 national election — all evidence points to a Joe Biden victory — could be particularly damaging, Stockley said.

“You can’t keep declaring that the system is broken and broken and then turn around and expect people to participate,” he said.

The top vote-getter this election cycle was the candidate most closely aligned with Trump. The former president has endorsed Landry in the past. Landry also hired a handful of Trump political advisers. To help run the campaign.

Low voter turnout could have a negative impact on Landrin. He heads into office with the fewest Louisianans who voted for him of all the other recent governors. Landry’s absence from the final race did not have the opportunity to further solidify the GOP base behind him and boost his poll numbers.

Landry’s polls (548,000) were far less than the totals for Gov. John Bel Edwards (774,000) or Republican challenger Eddie Respon (734,000) in the 2019 gubernatorial runoff. Jindal in 2011 He received more than 699,000 votes in 2007, like Landry, when he won a primary.

Republican Buddy Roemer is the only governor in the past 40 years to be elected to office with fewer votes. In the year He received 516,000 votes, or 33% of the vote, to finish first in the 1987 primary. Romer was scheduled to face Edwin Edwards in the finals, but Edwards dropped the match to make Romer the automatic winner.

In Edwin Edwards’ last two gubernatorial victories, he received more than 1 million votes, even though the state’s population was smaller. In 1983, when Edwards and Treen squared off, Louisiana had 4.2 million residents. Now, it has more than 4.6 million, according to the latest U.S. Census estimate.

Turnout in Louisiana was particularly high in the 1980s because of the economic crisis. The oil and gas market has collapsed, putting people out of work and leaving the state with limited revenue, which has made voters pay more attention, said John Couvillon, an election expert who has worked for a number of candidates in this year’s fall election.

“When Louisiana is doing relatively well like it is right now, you have a very motivated electorate,” he said.

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