Even excluding the totals from today’s turn-out (which was the final day for early voting in Louisiana and was, by all accounts, the busiest day so far), the Great State has already experienced a 169% increase in early voters, compared to the 2004 election.
As illustrated below, a substantial portion of that increase is likely due to African-American voters, who are already voting in record numbers:
These are remarkable numbers, and they certainly undercut any argument supporting a double-digit McCain victory in Louisiana.
It would be naive to ignore our State’s demographics and even more naive to downplay the significance of early voter turn-out, as evidenced by the three to four hour waits that many of my friends experienced when voting in New Orleans today.
Although, empirically, early voting (previously known as absentee voting) favored Republican candidates, the enthusiasm gap coupled with Louisiana’s voter demographics would seem to favor Senator Obama and down-ticket Democrats.
Already in Rapides Parish more than 7,600 people have cast votes in this election, nearly 42% of whom are African-American. Indeed, well over 58% of early voters in Rapides Parish are registered Democrats.
The same trends can be found throughout the State.
Secretary of State Jay Dardenne’s numbers indicate the following:
Total: 264,361 votes
Whites: 161,603 (61.1%)
African-Americans: 95,197 (36.0%)
Democrats: 154,368 (58.4%)
Republicans: 75,423 (28.5%)
Independents: 34,570 (13.1%)
I may not need to state the obvious, but I’ll do it anyway: This looks great for Obama and the Democrats. If the early voting trends hold steady, Obama will win Louisiana. If Obama receives between 10% and 20% of white voters, assuming the turn-out numbers remain consistent, he will win Louisiana.
Even if one applies the internals of the latest Rasmussen poll in Louisiana (which are, understandably, proprietary and prohibited from being republished without expressed consent), Obama will win Louisiana, provided the trends remain substantially the same. (And remember, that same poll had McCain up by over 15 points).
Simply put, the polls here may be proven to be woefully inaccurate, having dramatically discounted the dynamics of an increased turn-out.