Early voting in Louisiana still leans Democratic, but maybe not for long

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Early voting results, which only provides voter demographics and not ballot choices, is often used as electoral tea leaves, to try to divine trends or predictions before election day. Louisiana’s early and absentee voting ended this week, so I took a look at the numbers from the Secretary of State’s office to see who the state’s eager beavers are.

This year, 517,614 people early voted in Louisiana, 31% more than in 2012, and 43% more than in 2008. Early voting is clearly a growing phenomenon, at least here, though there are similar reports of records being broken across the country.

Of those, 38% were Republicans, 44% were Democrats, and 16% were Libertarians, Greens, other parties, or unaffiliated voters. Before you take this to mean Hillary is going to win one of the reddest of red states, let’s take a look at prior years.

Four years ago, early voting was a little bluer. In 2012, 50% were Democrats, 34% Republicans, and 14% other. I shouldn’t need to remind you that Louisiana was still very, very red in 2012. Romney won 57% of the total vote to Obama’s 40%. Even though Democrats had a majority of the early vote, Republicans still took the total vote by a huge margin due to election day turnout.

Four years before that, early voting was bluer still. In 2008, 57% were Democrats, 28% were Republicans, and 13% other. That year, McCain beat Obama 58 to 39.

At least in Lousiana, early voting demographics don’t seem to be predictive of either party’s total vote share. As Republicans have increased their early voting share significantly, by 6-7 points each cycle, their total share of the total presidential vote has remained about the same.

This year, Trump’s margin in Louisiana is expected to be nearly identical to Romney’s 17-point win and McCain’s 18-point win. His average on RealClearPolitics is 51% to Clinton’s 34%. Both candidates are down about 6% from their party’s previous nominees, with about 5% of that being taken by Libertarian Gary Johnson and 1-2% by Greens’ Jill Stein. That leaves a few percent of mostly undecided voters still unaccounted for, so Trump and Clinton may still inch up a bit by election night.


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