An Editor’s Notebook: Louisiana may strengthen Republicans; Inhofe and Coburn gain high ratings for conservatism

From an Editor’s notebook, Republicans are poised to grow even stronger after Saturday’s U.S. Senate election in Louisiana, and a national publication rates the conservatism of Oklahomans in the upper chamber.

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In the Bayou State, early voting statistics seem grim for incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat. Under the state’s system, what was a general election for most of us was a multi-candidate primary in Louisiana. The runoff is set for December 6.

There are limits to the use of data in campaign analysis, of course. That is true even of exit polling, which done well results in large samples of an electorate, at least for traditional election day itself. Of course, there is no exit polling, yet, for the Saturday runoff. However, if National Journal is doing a good job (as it usually does), the hopes of Louisiana Democrats, that voter surveys will be trumped by high early voting among Democratic constituencies, will not be fulfilled. 

As of Monday, NJ’s Scott Bland reported early voting among most demographic groups is far below participation in the Nov. 4 primary. Black turnout is 23.5 percent lower than in November, turnout among women was 12 percent less, and among Democrats as a whole it was down 17.9 percent.

On the other hand, Republican turnout was actually up slightly, by 3.4 percent.

By most in-state press accounts, Landrieu performed decently in the final pre-election debate against the last Republican standing, Baton Rouge U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy. However, she has remained double-digits behind him in most surveys. It seems unlikely there will be a sufficient surge toward Landrieu as a result of her debate performance.

Landrieu has a moderately conservative voting record in the Senate. She is supportive of the state’s vital energy industry, including fossil fuels. 

Fellow Democrats rebuffed her passionate pleas, just after the November primary, to support completion of the Keystone Pipeline. 

Her stances over the years have infuriated some in her party, weakening her even as Republicans have grown stronger in registration and election performance.

She might yet rally with themes slamming Cassidy for allegedly “double-dipping” on the public dole.

However, she has suffered from a series of gaffes, including accusations of racism against Republicans and bigotry against the state’s white males. And, there have been news reports in recent days of key supporters calling on liberal voters to follow the Chicago way, to “vote early and often.”

To be sure, it’s not over, until it’s over. The Saturday runoff, established decades ago (as yet another means to help then-powerful Democrats) often helps boost turnout among minority voters. And, despite her moderate-conservative proclivities Landrieu drew 94 percent backing from black voters in November. So, stay tuned.

This is not rocket science, but as traditional voting nears on Saturday, Cassidy appears poised for a victory. 

It will be the ninth Republican pickup in the upper chamber of Congress, bringing GOP strength to 54 votes.

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National Journal’s team of analysts has listed both of the state’s U.S. Senators among the 15 most conservative members. U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, just elected, came in fifth, trailing U.S. Sens. James Risch of Idaho, Michael Enzi of Wyoming, Tim Scott of South Carolina and Ted Cruz of Texas, in first through fourth, respectively. 

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, leaving his seat this winter, was ranked thirteenth.

In the House of Representatives, no Oklahoman’s fell in the top 15 most conservative members.