Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Cassidy Wins Louisiana in a Landslide; Republicans Also Take CDs 5 & 6

In House, Senate on December 8, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Louisiana Senate

The Louisiana run-offs were held Saturday night and, as expected, three-term Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) lost a landslide re-election bid. With just under 1.3 million people participating, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6) claimed a 56-44 percent victory margin.

In the state’s jungle primary that runs concurrently with the national general election, Louisiana increased turnout more than any other state when compared to the 2010 mid-term election. A total of 16.4 percent more Louisianans voted in 2014 than four years ago. Conversely, only 15 states produced more voters this year than in 2010. With more than 1.472 million voting in the November jungle primary, Sen. Landrieu placed first, but with just 42 percent of the vote. In the combined party primary vote, 56 percent chose a Republican candidate, while 43 percent voted for a Democrat. Therefore, the aggregate primary totals proved a precursor to the almost identical run-off result.

Rep. Cassidy’s victory in the Senate race means that the Republicans gained nine seats in the 2014 election cycle and gives them a 56-44 majority in the new 114th Congress. Five Democratic incumbents, including Sen. Landrieu, were defeated.

In her 2008 victory (52-46 percent) over Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy, Landrieu carried 34 parishes. This year, her parish win count dropped to just 15. Though she racked up big percentages in Democratic strongholds like Orleans and Caddo, she still fell more than 23,000 votes short of her 2008 totals in both parishes (more than 32,000 in Orleans).

Landrieu was virtually abandoned by her Democratic Party allies in the run-off, as the national party hierarchy seemed resigned to her defeat. They failed to exert any pronounced effort to save the seat.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pulled their media buy for the run-off; the Democratic leadership did not back her lame duck session Keystone Pipeline initiative, legislation she was attempting to pass to prove her “clout” in Washington; and President Obama not waiting until the run-off was over to announce his immigration executive order all factored negatively in her re-election effort.

As a result of the lack of support from Landrieu’s allies, media advertisements split almost 80-20 percent in Cassidy’s favor. These factors, along with President Obama’s strong unfavorable ratings in Louisiana, and the Republican electoral trend, culminated in Saturday’s end result.

LA-5

A 60-year-old physician who didn’t even go to medical school until he was 36 is the new congressman from Louisiana’s northeastern congressional district. Dr. Ralph Abraham (R) easily defeated Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo (D) to win in his first run for public office.

Abraham’s victory was complete. He won 64-36 percent over Mayo, after placing second in the primary when scoring 23 percent to his opponent’s original 28 percent. But, the combined Republican vote was 70.2 percent in November, leaving little doubt that Mayo would be overwhelmed in the run-off election. Abraham captured a majority in 18 of the district’s 23 parishes. He is the third different person to win a congressional election in this district since the 2012 general election.

The seat became open when freshman incumbent Vance McAllister (R) finished fourth in the jungle primary with just 11.1 percent of the vote. Though an incumbent in a state whose voters rarely defeat a sitting office holder, McAllister was scandal-tainted with an extra-marital affair soon after he was elected. The local businessman won a 2013 special election after Rep. Rodney Alexander (R) resigned to accept an appointment in the Jindal Administration.

LA-6

Our last run-off occurred in Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District, anchored in the Baton Rouge metropolitan area. The seat was opened because of Rep. Bill Cassidy’s run for the Senate.

In the November jungle primary, former Gov. Edwin Edwards (D) placed first with 30 percent of the vote, but it was only a matter of time before former Jindal Administration official Garret Graves (R) would easily win the seat. The final totals were 62-38 percent in what marks the 87-year-old Edwards’ final political run.

During his concession speech, Edwards said he will not run for office again. He served four terms in Congress, and was elected four separate times as governor. Convicted of public corruption, Edwards was in federal prison for eight years. He said he ran for Congress this year because ‘Louisiana election law does not allow convicted felons to run for state office’.

Graves won 10 of the district’s 13 parishes, and should have no trouble holding this seat for as long as he wants.

The pair of Republican victories means the GOP will control a minimum of 246 seats in the House for the 114th Congress. If Arizona’s Martha McSally (R) survives the recount and her 161-vote victory over Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ-2) is confirmed, the Republicans will have a 247-188 majority, their largest since the 1928 election.

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