Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Louisiana elections in 25 words or less

Posted By on Wed, Nov 3, 2010 at 12:12 AM

Why did David Vitter win so big?

Because he succeeded in making his re-election, from the very beginning, a referendum on President Obama — and NOT a referendum on himself.

Why did Charlie Melancon do so poorly?

He got out-spent and out-messaged. He failed to make this a referendum on Vitter, opting instead to keep his powder dry.

Should Melancon have attacked Vitter sooner?

Definitely. By the time Melancon started shooting, Vitter had already blown him apart by defining Melancon as a liberal Dem — before he could define himself.

Does this mean voters don't care about Vitter's sex scandal?
No, it just means they care more about how much they dislike President Obama. In Louisiana, at least, Obama's more unpopular than "serious sin."

Are Vitter's scandals behind him now?
Yes, but he's still not good at "playing well with others." He'll have to work even harder to change that image among his colleagues.

Was Jay Dardenne expected to win that big?
No. He boarded the conservative GOP tsunami late, but he rode it home by linking Fayard to liberal Dems. Kershaw's endorsement also helped among Bubbas.

What's the future hold for Caroline Fayard?
She's Louisiana's rising Democratic star. Nobody knew her 6 months ago, but on Tuesday she got 64,000 more votes than Charlie Melancon. Watch her.

With Jay Dardenne's election as Lt. Governor, what happens to the Secretary of State's job?
Dardenne's top assistant, former state Sen. Tom Shedler of St. Tammany, becomes interim secretary of state. Meanwhile, Gov. Jindal gets to schedule a special election.

After all that rain, how did Cedric Richmond win so big?
Blacks historically vote later in the day, which on Tuesday was after the rain stopped, and he got significantly more crossover vote than Cao.

How important was President Obama's endorsement of (and TV ad for) Richmond?
Extremely important. It transformed the race from "possibly very close" to a Democratic landslide by galvanizing and helping turn out black voters.

Why did Cao do so poorly?
His attempts to mollify Dems by cozying up to Obama turned off hard-core Goopers, giving him his own "enthusiasm gap."

How much black vote did Cao get?
Less than 8 percent. Meanwhile, Richmond got at least 15% of white votes in all-white precincts — and more in racially diverse precincts.

What's Cao's future?
It depends. Will Repubs forgive him for giving Obama several votes? Might Obama appoint him to something to show his own bi-partisanship? Anything's possible.

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