Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

The Run-offs are on in Georgia and Louisiana

In House, Senate on November 7, 2014 at 11:20 pm

Georgia and Louisiana are the only two states that hold post-general election run-offs. In Louisiana, the state primary is concurrent with the general election and features all candidates appearing on the same ballot. Thus, if a contender exceeds 50 percent of the vote, the person is elected outright. In Georgia, all party nominees must obtain an absolute majority to secure election. Therefore, remembering that Georgia has a run-off system for primary nomination, it is conceivable that a candidate would have to endure four separate elections in order to claim a political office.

In 2014, despite many predictions that both the Georgia Senate and governor’s race would be forced into a post-election run-off, neither were. Businessman David Perdue (R) captured the Senate seat with 53 percent, the same percentage in which Gov. Nathan Deal (R) secured re-election. Therefore, the “second generation of Democrats”, meaning Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former US Sen. Sam Nunn (D), and Jason Carter, the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, both failed to fulfill pre-election expectations.

And, with seven of the state’s 14 congressional district incumbents running unopposed, there appeared little chance that any contested leading congressional candidate would fail to secure majority support.

LA-Senate

Louisiana, however, is a different story, and now several contests will be decided in a Dec. 6 run-off election. With eight candidates on the US Senate ballot and retired US Air Force officer Rob Maness demonstrating that he commanded a base of support, polling correctly predicted that incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6) would require political overtime.

Though the Louisiana contest will not determine who controls the Senate, the race should still attract a great deal of attention from the political parties and outside organizations. While true that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) just announced they are canceling a major portion of their television buy, they are certainly not abandoning Landrieu. Though it is never a good sign when an incumbent is thrown into a run-off, especially when only registering 42 percent support in the primary, Sen. Landrieu has been in similar positions before. She has won two such run-offs in the past, one as an incumbent.

This time, however, the situation is different. The state is decidedly moving to the right and her primary percentage is the lowest ever. Therefore, Rep. Cassidy has to be considered the early favorite to unseat the veteran politician whose father was mayor of New Orleans, while her brother currently occupies that position. Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) was also the state’s former lieutenant governor.

LA-5

Two Bayou State congressional races will also feature a secondary election. The 5th District, which occupies the northeast sector of the state, finds a battle between Monroe Democratic Mayor Jamie Mayo and Republican physician Ralph Abraham, a first-time candidate. They both out-paced Rep. Vance McAllister (R), who finished a poor fourth, and businessman Zach Dasher (R). The latter is related to the district’s most famous residents, the Robertson family of Duck Dynasty reality television fame. Dasher finished just one point behind Abernathy.

Rep. McAllister becomes one of the very few federal incumbents to have lost a seat in Louisiana. The state is known for its historically incumbent-friendly electorate. But McAllister’s extra-marital scandal soon after winning a special election to replace resigned Rep. Rodney Alexander (R) sent him to a low of just 11 percent primary support.

The Abraham-Mayo contest will favor the GOP. The 5th is a heavily Republican district and yielded Mayo a first place finish only because multiple Republicans split the vote. The mayor’s vote total was just 28 percent. Though better than all of the other candidates, it is unlikely he can attract enough crossover support to deny Abraham, even in what promises to be a very low turnout election. Count this race as “Likely Republican.”

LA-6

Former four-term governor and convicted felon Edwin Edwards (D) placed first in the jungle primary earlier this week, but that was largely because he is the most well-known Democrat against the six candidates who garnered more than 7,000 votes. Edwards scored 30 percent of the vote, almost 78,000 votes. In second place with 27 percent, some 7,100 votes behind the ex-governor, is former state Coastal Protection Authority chairman Garret Graves (R). The two advance to the Dec. 6 run-off.

Though the 86-year-old Edwards is one of the more colorful characters in American politics, the numbers here cut very much against him in a one-on-one campaign against a lone Republican. The 6th District, anchored in Baton Rouge, is a highly Republican district. Of the candidates receiving more than 7,000 votes, the four Republicans notched 58 percent to the combined Democrats’ 32 percent.

Graves raised over $1.1 million for the primary, about three times the amount the top Democrat collected, and was clearly the strongest Republican. Together, he and Edwards took 57 percent of the total vote. Graves, a former Gov. Bobby Jindal appointee, finished 14 percentage points ahead of the next closest Republican, businessman Paul Dietzel.

This race, too, should be considered “Likely Republican.”

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