Let's Talk Sense...
Thursday, December 5, 2002 Volume XXVII, No. 6
Roswell, New Mexico
Readership, this date:
Making History in Louisiana
In this issue:
1. Making History in Louisiana
--- What has happened so far
--- The National Mood and Louisiana
--- GOP State Party Dynamics: The Unknown Factor
2. "Reminder to Voters" (on the LA SecState web site)
A Louisiana Historical Note:
William Pitt Kellogg left office on March 3, 1883, nearly 120 years ago. He was Louisiana's last Republican Senator.
We expect Louisiana to have a Republican Senator on January 3, 2003.
Today, as the historically inaccurate monologues of a Bill Moyers, windbags like Phil Donahue, or airheads like Margaret Carlson, are forced on the American people, we are treated to both current politics and history as if it were all written and produced by Oliver Stone. (The movie producer/director of JFK, Nixon, Platoon, Born on the 4th of July, Salvador, and several others, all of which are virtually total fabrications.)
One thing we will never hear mention of is the history of the Ku Klux Klan. By the late 1870s and early 1880s, when Senator Kellogg was finishing his term, the Klan was operating as it was designed to do. What few Americans realize is that the Ku Klux Klan was created as the auxiliary of the Democrat Party in the South, and later, it served a similar role in much of the midwest.
The Klan harassed, terrorized, lynched and murdered Republicans throughout the region during, and for some 50 years following, Reconstruction, which ended in 1877. Senator Kellogg declined to run for re-election in 1882, although he was elected to a congressional seat that year and served two more years in Washington before retiring.
The Democrat Party never disavowed the Klan. They tried, once, at their 1924 national convention. But in an act which must rank as the most shameful ever committed by any political party in the history of the United States, a resolution condemning the Klan was defeated 544-543.
If you are a Republican (and many of our readers are not) don't ever let a Democrat criticize your party on civil rights, or any racial issue. The Republican Party is the only party in the history of the world to be founded on a moral principle. It should take a back seat to no one on those issues, least of all the Democrat Party. Brook no nonsense about it.
Making History in Louisiana
What has happened so far
We have received quite a few e-mails, calls and inquiries about the US Senate runoff election in Louisiana this Saturday, December 7, asking for a projection of the winner. Actually, we are already on record:
"The best overall forecast right now is that the Republicans will have a 53-47 Senate majority come January 2003. That is to say they will go on and win the runoff in Louisiana a month after Tuesday's election."
(LTS...Monday, November 4, 2002: "Republicans Capture Senate")
But anyway, just to recap, here is what is going on in Louisiana. On November 5, nine candidates competed for the US Senate seat held by incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu. Here are those results:
Mary Landrieu (D) 573,347 46%
Suzanne Terrell (R) 339,506 27%
John Cooksey (R) 171,752 14%
Tony Perkins (R) 119,776 10%
Raymond Brown (D) 23,553 2%
"Live Wire" Landry (O) 10,442
James Lemann (O) 3,866
Gary D. Robbins (O) 2,423
Ernest Skillman, Jr. (O) 1,668
That was what is known as (or what passes for) a primary election in Louisiana, even though it was the "general election" day for everyone else. (More on that later.) Everyone runs together. In this case two Democrats, three Republicans and four "others," who were either from minor parties, had no party affiliation, or actually called themselves independents, all ran against each other.
If you aggregate the party vote, the result was:
Democrat candidates 596,900 (47.89%)
Republican candidates 631,034 (50.63%)
Other candidates 18,399 ( 1.48%)
Taking the major party vote alone, the GOP enjoyed a 51.4% - 48.6% advantage.
Of course we are not advocating adopting that simple methodology for predicting the outcome of runoffs in Louisiana. But, this time only it might be fairly accurate.
Try as we might to develop models which can be replicated---and we can with reasonable accuracy---keep in mind that psephology (a branch of political science) is not a hard science. Otherwise it would be taught in the math department, not the department of social sciences.
Every election presents its own set of unique dynamics, but usually they can be factored into the model. In this case, however there are some "never seen before" dynamics in play. Namely, this is the first-ever Louisiana senatorial runoff to be held in December.
The all-party, "free-for-all" primary was invented by former Governor Edwin Edwards in the 1970s. It called for a "primary" in September and a "runoff," if needed, on the date of the national general election. In 1997,the Supreme Court ruled they could no longer do this. The congressional elections would be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November (like everyone else). A runoff, if necessary, would have to come after that. This is the first statewide runoff under the new system.
Logically, turnout should be down. As a general rule one cannot expect as big a turnout for a single-contest election in December as for a general election with multiple races in November.
In fact, a similar situation occurred in a senate race in Georgia in 1992. Incumbent Democrat Wyche Fowler received 49% of the vote in the November balloting, but was forced into a runoff with Republican challenger Paul Coverdell. More than 2,250,000 voted in the November contest, but in the runoff three weeks later only a little over 1,250,000 showed up----a drop-off of one million votes. The Republicans had the intensity and the staying power and Coverdell prevailed by 16,000 votes.
This time in Louisiana, just a shade under 50% of the 2.5 million registered voters, about 1.25 million, voted in the November election. Given the intensity of the campaign, as well as the situation internationally and nationally, we can't see how the drop-off will be anything like the 1992 runoff in Georgia. We are almost certain to see over a million people return to the polls this Saturday, and who knows, maybe even equal the total vote in November.
The National Mood and Louisiana
Most factors seem augur well for the Republicans.
1. George W. Bush broke an 8-year losing streak in Louisiana in 2000 (ominously though, it must be noted that his win was less impressive than his father's over Dukakis in 1988).
2. Louisiana is marginally to moderately culturally conservative, although it is no Alabama. (There are many demographic reasons for this, but the main point to keep in mind now is that it means that the Republican President could actually possibly lose Louisiana in 2004---depends on circumstances, issues, etc. On the other hand, he cannot possibly lose Alabama.)
3. Republicans have near parity in what might be called the "national outlook" of the average Louisianan. Combine that with culturally offensive Democrat nominees, Gore for example, and Republicans can score a victory. But put up a Clinton, who is nothing if not the master of southern political charm----evincing cultural, social, and historical commonality with every nuanced phrase, every reversion to regional accent and facial expression----and, well, they might not. In fact they didn't. Either time. (That is the threat a candidate like John Edwards poses in Louisiana, and for different reasons in Florida, Arkansas, and maybe even Virginia---but that is analysis yet to come.)
4. The President is popular and he has campaigned personally in Louisiana.
5. Louisianans are disposed to favor a strong national defense posture.
6. They are inclined to be sympathetic to the President's concerns about national security matters in general.
7. The President has momentum, and he is asking for help at a critical time in our history.
Democrats, to be sure, have some things going for them:
1. They still maintain a clear structural advantage in Louisiana, something very common in the South----and almost universal now in the Northeast. That is something that grows out of a tradition of strong local Democrat Party organization, habitual, generational voting, local officeholders and so on.
2. There is the dynamic of the President facing a popular home state senator on as a counterpart on the campaign trail. Not Landrieu, but John Breaux, who is working hard for his fellow Democrat. The President did lose head-to-head against Tom Daschle on that count in South Dakota, by 527 votes. (Although LTS... does not really believe that John Thune lost that race.)
But overall, the circumstances surrounding this election clearly work strongly in favor of the Republicans.
George W. Bush carried Louisiana by nearly 8 points in 2000. He won 53.94% of the major party vote (not including the minor parties' totals). In the most predictive model (7 "key" outlying parishes plus the state's three largest, Orleans, Jefferson, and East Baton Rouge) he got 53.23%.
The results of the primary track those results very closely, with the combined Republicans outpacing the Democrats in those same ten parishes, 51.6 to 48.4, about .2% lower than the statewide total.
Good news for Suzanne Haik Terrell: Orleans Parish turnout for the November election was about 1½ to 2½ points below the key outlying parishes and East Baton Rouge Parish, which are all more Republican than Orleans. Jefferson Parish, also Republican, was however about 5 points lower than Orleans.
However, this just in: The totals from the absentee balloting which ended last week, show that Jefferson Parish's absentee voting was twice what it was a month ago, while Orleans Parish had only 857 more than its November total.
It appears there is nothing in the results of November 5th to contradict the model developed earlier to project both the runoff and the eventual Republican victory.
In fact, given the exaggerated analysis by most of the media (remember our guarded view of the notion of a "mandate") the President and the Republicans are believed to have such a distinct psychological advantage right now, a victory for Landrieu would be played as a major setback. The GOP pretty much has to win this one.
GOP State Party Dynamics: The Unknown Factor
There is one other factor in play however, which could affect the outcome of the race: the attitude of the also-rans in the Republican Primary. We have heard conflicting reports about whether John Cooksey and Tony Perkins were going to support Suzanne Terrell, and ask their supporters to do the same.
It is also reported that Republican Governor Mike Foster is not supporting Terrell, or at least is declining to endorse her.
This type of intra-party squabbling is the one factor that can overcome every other psephological, demographic or historical advantage a candidate may have going for her. If these kinds of negatives are too strong, then these Republicans can in fact defeat Ms. Terrell. Though why they would want to is difficult to understand.
This brings up another point about candidates and elections:
You learn more about the character of a candidate from how he or she reacts to losing than you do from how he reacts to winning.
You can mark this down: If a candidate loses a primary and refuses to support his party's winner, then politics, and public office, for that particular man or woman is all about him or her personally.* It is not about service. It is not about the state. It is not about the country. Rather, it is only about that particular person's individual goals and objectives. If it is about principles (the shared principles of a political party or philosophy), then that candidate will be the first to endorse the party's nominee. If it is just about himself, or herself, he or she will probably whine, or worse.
*Of course there is the "David Duke" exception. Or in fact exceptions less drastic. If someone wins a Republican nomination who is completely opposed to the principles of the party or whose views on race, economic or social issues, or whose stance on other matters are totally at odds with those of the Republican Party, one not only should not support the person, but may have to actively support his or her opponents. The fact is that this is rarely the case. In most instances the "divided party" phenomenon is personality-driven, and is not based on issues or philosophy.
A Reminder to Voters
This is from the Louisiana Secretary of State's Web site:
"When you go to the polls to cast your vote in an election, be sure to take a driver's license, a Louisiana Special ID, or some other generally recognized picture ID. If you do not have a picture ID, our office has furnished affidavits that can be completed at each precinct. Should any problems or questions arise, the principal office of the Registrar of Voters in each parish will be open from 6 AM to 9 PM on election day. In addition our office will be open and can be reached by phone at (225) 342-4970."
But in New Mexico, we want it to be easy to cheat. So no picture ID can be required.
The Republican Party will celebrate its 150th Anniversary in early 2004.
Thus far we have seen no indication the party is planning a celebration of any kind. This would be an error of historical significance (pardon the bad pun).
In all seriousness, there is much to be celebrated and much to be communicated to the American people about the party that:
---Provided the legislative framework that allowed American industry and business to grow, prosper and become the strongest in the world
---Wrote and passed the 13th Amendment (ending slavery)
---Wrote and passed the 14th Amendment (equal protection)
---Wrote and passed the 15th Amendment (the original voting rights act)
---Built America's Land Grant colleges and universities
---Created and preserved America's national parks and monuments
---Created and preserved America's national forests
---Broke up monopolies while providing a workable framework for free enterprise
---Passed the Homestead Act so that families could own their own farms and land, (the Democrats had fought it vigorously because they favored large landowners in the south----you didn't need to have slaves to work only 160 acres)
---Built the transcontinental railroad
---Built the modern Navy, making us a world power
---Passed the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote
---Provided the staying power to finish out and win the Cold War
There is perhaps no greater single example of the historical contrast between the two major parties than that of the Homestead Act. The Republicans passed it in 1862, the first year they had control of Congress and the Presidency. They believed it was good public policy for America's families to own, work and earn a living on America's public lands. Democrats opposed it because their party felt it was a threat to the powerful interests in their party. Independent farmers, with no need for slaves had no need of the Democrat Party's pro-slavery platform they reasoned. They reasoned correctly.
The Homestead Act endured for 72 years. After the Democrats captured the White House and the Congress in 1932, they decided to end the Homestead Act. What did they replace it with? The Bureau of Land Management.
There is hardly a greater example of the contrast in principle and national vision between the two major parties.