Louisiana could see higher-than-anticipated voter turnout this fall, thanks to the heated battle over Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’s seat and the intense interest its drawn among Republicans, a recent survey from LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab suggests.
“Turnout will certainly be lower than in 2012, but the drop this year may be smaller in Louisiana compared to other parts of the country as campaigns work to mobilize voters here for the very competitive U.S. Senate race,” research director Michael Henderson said in a news release Tuesday on the lab’s 2014 Election Report.
Republican voters in Louisiana are more engaged this election cycle than their Democratic counterparts, the survey found.
About 60 percent of Republicans say they are following news about the election very or fairly closely. About 85 percent say they are certain to vote this fall.
“Right now, Republicans are especially galvanized for the election,” Henderson said.
By comparison, about 41 percent of Democrats said they were following election news very or fairly closely and about 75 percent said they were certain to vote. Independents said they were slightly more engaged in the news cycle — about 43 percent — but overall less certain to vote at 53 percent.
Landrieu faces Republican 6th District Congressman Bill Cassidy and tea party-backed Rob Maness in the Nov. 4 election. A runoff will be held Dec. 6, if needed.
Voters — Republicans and Democrats — overwhelmingly agreed that control of Congress will play a factor in their decisions this fall.
The research lab’s 2014 Election Report is based on interviews with 1,021 Louisiana adults, including 944 self-identified registered voters. The margin of error is about 4.3 percent, according to the lab.
The report notes that voters tend to overstate the likelihood that they’ll actually make it to the polls. Louisiana’s recent midterm elections that have included a U.S. Senate race have seen an average of about 44.5 percent of registered voters cast ballots, while the last three presidential elections averaged about 67.4 percent.
Some other findings from the survey:
- The economy is the top issue for Louisiana voters (83 percent), followed by foreign policy and national security. Republicans were more likely than Democrats to think immigration, the Affordable Care Act, the federal budget deficit and foreign policy are important issues that will impact how they vote.
- Most Louisiana voters disapprove of President Barack Obama’s job performance. Just 38 percent said they approve, to 53 percent who disapprove. That is even more magnified among Republicans. More than two-thirds of Republican voters say their opinion of Obama will influence how they vote this fall.
“They seem to be jumping at the chance to go out and cast a vote against the party of the president,” Henderson said.
- Overall, Louisiana voters have an even lower opinion of Congress and Republican congressional leaders, in particular. Just 20 percent said they approve of the job Congress as a whole is doing and 21 percent approve of GOP Congressional leadership. About 27 percent approve of Democratic leadership in congress.
- Few voters know the party affiliation of their elected representatives to U.S. Congress. Only about 38 percent of those surveyed in Louisiana could correctly identify which party their congressmen are members of — well below the national average of 53 percent.