Turnout Analysis

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Here’s a run-down on turnout in last Saturday’s congressional primaries. But first, it’s important to recognize that persons registered as belonging other “recognized” parties (Green Party, Libertarian and Reform) could not vote in either party primary last Saturday. That makes precise calculations of turnout difficult, because the Secretary of State’s Web site does not show registration numbers for those parties. Instead, the Greens, Libertarians and Reformers are lumped in with the “no party” voters and other “unrecognized” party voters as “other party” registrants. That said, here’s my best guess as to turnout.

The Democrats “opened” their primary, but only to those who are registered as “no party” or to “unrecognized” parties (Socialist Workers, etc.) I calculated the Democratic turnout using the total registered Democrats and the total registered “other party” figures, which obviously gives me a total number of “eligible voters” that’s too big. However, if I’m correct in assuming that the total number of Greens, Libertarians and Reformers is relatively small in those two districts, my figures will only be off (too low) from the true turnout figure by a tenth or two of a percentage point. I am therefore putting an asterisk after the Democratic and total turnout figures. Because the Republicans restricted their primary to Republicans only, we have a true turnout figure for that primary.

If anyone from the “recognized parties” has figures on their party members, please post so that we can all get a better turnout picture. Meanwhile…

1ST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Total Democratic turnout (including unaffiliated independents): 16,804 votes cast

Eligible Voters in Democratic Primary: 167,336 Democrats + 105,146 “other party” = 272,482 eligible voters. *

Democratic Primary Turnout: 6.1% *

Total Republican turnout (registered GOPs only): 34,750 votes cast

Total GOP Registration: 160,438

Republican Primary Turnout: 21.7%

Total votes cast in 1st District: 51,554

Total 1st District Registration: 432,920

Overall 1st District Turnout on March 8: 11.9% *

6TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Total Democratic turnout (including unaffiliated independents): 47,461 votes cast

Eligible Voters in Democratic Primary 208,537 Democrats + 93,642 “other party” = 302,179 eligible voters

Democratic Primary Turnout: 15.7% *

Total Republican Turnout (registered GOPs only): 29,782 votes cast

Total GOP Registration: 118,104

Republican Primary Turnout: 25.2%

Total votes cast in 6th District: 77,243

Total 6th District Registration: 420,283 *

Overall 6th District Turnout: 18.37% *

NOTES on the 6th District Race:

Woody Jenkins just missed winning a majority. He got 49.85 percent of the vote. His total of 14,849 was 43 votes shy of a majority of the votes cast. Looks like Woody is forever falling just shy of what he needs to win. As Maxwell Smart used to say, “Missed it by THAT MUCH!”

If the turnout on General Election Day is anything like it was on Saturday, the Democrats could win the 6th District seat. On Saturday, the Demos turned out more than 47,000 votes, while the Republicans turned out less than 30,000. Sure, some Democrats tend to vote Republican, but I doubt they went to the polls on Saturday to vote in the Democratic primary. Maybe there’s a “silent majority” of conservative Democrats in the 6th District, but I can’t think that the GOP shutting them all out of the nominating process is going to make them want to trek out on May 3 for Woody Jenkins, particularly after they were not welcome on March 8 and April 5.

The GOP's dilemma, which is completely self-inflicted, reminds me of something that I heard an old-time Cajun politico say in 1984: “The problem with Louisiana Republicans is, dey wanna have a great big party — but dey don’t wanna invite nobody.” His analysis was spot-on in terms of how state party leaders will ultimately have to choose between growing the party, which requires power sharing (particularly with persons who might have different ideas), and maintaining ideological purity.

On the Democratic side, the party now has to choose between a white moderate, state Rep. Don Cazayoux of New Roads, and an African-American liberal, state Rep. Michael Jackson of Baton Rouge. That battle also could break along geographic — urban vs. rural — lines. Cazayoux is considered the stronger candidate against a Republican, particularly a hard-line right-winger like Jenkins, but black voters in Baton Rouge would no doubt like to have another African-American in Congress from Louisiana. U.S. Senator Barack Obama’s candidacy for president also has inspired black turnout nationwide.

It should be an interesting set of runoffs.

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