Nov. 6, 2015 — Looking beyond the vote tallies in Tuesday night’s odd-year election we find that at least two voting patterns reappeared. First, we again see, as has been the case since the beginning of this century, that Republicans have a clear advantage in low-turnout elections while the Democrats do much better when participation factors are higher.
This same situation was evident in the pre-Reagan era of the 60s and 70s, but changed after the 1980 election. During the 80s and some of the 90s, it was Republicans who generally performed better when turnouts went higher.
In Kentucky, for example, Republican Matt Bevin scored a surprising 53-44 percent victory and, even though voter turnout increased by more than 150,000 people when compared to the last gubernatorial contest of four years ago, the participation rate was only 30.4 percent. Tuesday, just under 975,000 voters cast ballots in the race for governor. By contrast, the 2012 Kentucky presidential vote reached near the 1.8 million range, a turnout percentage closer to 60 percent of the registered voter universe for that particular election.
We also saw Republicans perform well in Virginia, where they held their majorities in both the state Senate and House of Delegates, losing no seats. The Mississippi races went heavily Republican with Gov. Phil Bryant (R) scoring a 67 percent re-election victory, the GOP taking most of the statewide races, and gaining a net one seat on the entire state legislative scorecard, within an aggregate of 174 (52 Senate seats; 122 House districts) electoral contests.
Democrats did better in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, forging ahead in these places despite lower voter turnout rates.
The second recurring electoral tenet from these five voting states provides further evidence that the anti-incumbent sentiment, seemingly so prevalent around the country, is apparently confined to federal office holders. Yesterday, we found voters again re-electing almost every state legislative incumbent who sought another term. Among the three states holding district elections, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia, an aggregate grand total of only nine incumbents (six Republicans; three Democrats) lost their seats from more than 300 who ran for re-election, an incumbent retention rate of over 95 percent.
The bad news continues to pour in for Sen. David Vitter (R) in his quest to become governor.
The first two post-primary polls are now in the public domain, both from pollsters who provided accurate data in the first election, and each coming to virtually the same current conclusion.
According to JMC Analytics (Oct. 28-31; 600 likely Louisiana voters), state Rep. John Bel Edwards (D) has opened up a major 52-32 percent advantage over Sen. Vitter, despite strong Louisiana Republican voting trends.
Likewise, Market Research Insight (Oct. 27-28; 600 Louisiana voters who cast a ballot in the Oct. 24 jungle primary) finds Edwards leading Vitter by a similar 54-38 percent.
MRI screened for different levels of African-American turnout, a voter group that will almost unanimously support Edwards. If the black turnout reaches 25 percent or higher, MRI projects the ballot test at the margin we see in the previous paragraph. If the African-American participation rate were to drop to 20 percent, the race becomes much closer but Edwards still maintains a discernible 51-40 percent edge.
With the Nov. 21 general election fast approaching, Vitter has little time to right his sinking political ship. Right now, the Democrats and John Bel Edwards are poised to score a major upset victory.