The last 2014 U.S. Senate race in the nation ends Saturday — finally! — when incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu meets Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, of Baton Rouge, in a Louisiana runoff. Here’s a look at the race, so far, by the numbers.
14: The percentage of the vote in the Nov. 4 open primary captured by Rob Maness, a tea party Republican from Madisonville, to finish third, behind Landrieu’s 42 percent and Cassidy’s 41 percent. Whom the Maness voters support Saturday — or if they vote at all — holds the key to the outcome. If Cassidy on Saturday matches the combined Republican share of the primary vote, he will win easily.
0: The number of white Democrats assured of serving in the 2015-16 Congress from the Deep South states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, based on the Nov. 4 election results from those states (Landrieu and Edwin Edwards, who is in the U.S. House runoff in the 6th District in Louisiana, could change that number if they win). Also, the number of Democrats who have won a statewide election in Louisiana since Landrieu’s last Senate race, in 2008.
2.9 million: The total of registered voters in the state. How many of them actually participate in the runoff could play a major role in determining the outcome. A high voter turnout generally favors Democrats, because several of their traditional supporter groups — minorities, younger voters, lower-income voters — don’t vote as reliably as other groups that favor Republicans.
30/30: The Landrieu campaign’s “magic number” for success. Landrieu can win, her campaign says, if black voters — who give her near-unanimous support — account for 30 percent of the electorate Saturday (they make up 31 percent of all registered voters) and she also gets 30 percent of the white vote: 30/30. The numbers can vary from that so long as they add up to 60. On Nov. 4, the black share of the total vote was a bit shy of 30 percent — but just 18 percent of white voters supported Landrieu, according to exit polls.
40: The approval rating for President Barack Obama in Louisiana, in percent, according to a recent poll. His national rating isn’t much better, if at all, and winning Republican candidates across the country this fall tied Democratic Senate candidates to the unpopular president.
97: The percentage of the time Landrieu voted in support of Obama’s position in the Senate, according to an analysis of 2013 votes by CQ Roll Call. Cassidy has repeated that number over and over in a campaign that he has focused on Landrieu’s collaboration with Obama. All Democratic senators supported Obama an average of 96 percent of the time in 2013. In the U.S. House, Cassidy was one of the most implacable opponents of the president, backing his position just 8 percent of the time.
70, $100 million: The increased age at which retirees would be eligible for full Social Security benefits under a House Republican budget proposal backed by Cassidy, and the amount of Hurricane Isaac relief money that Landrieu takes credit for including in a Superstorm Sandy recovery bill that Cassidy voted against in 2013 (it passed anyway). Both numbers have been cited by Landrieu in attacking Cassidy. He has pointed to a 2010 letter to Obama signed by Landrieu that endorses the Simpson-Bowles budget proposal and its approach to Social Security, which included increasing the age threshold to 69. He has said he voted against the $50 billion Sandy bill because it included unjustified spending on projects unrelated to disaster relief.
18: Years Landrieu has served in the Senate. Because of her seniority, she took over early this year as chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, with oversight of the oil and gas industry that is central to Louisiana’s economy. Landrieu has heavily promoted the “clout” she has acquired in the Senate, which she says she can employ on behalf of her state’s interests. But because of Republican victories in other Senate elections Nov. 4, Democrats in the 2015-16 Congress will lose their Senate majority — and with it, the power to choose committee chairmen. Landrieu argues that as the top-ranking member of the committee’s minority, she still will be able to do more for the state than would Cassidy, in line to join the committee as the junior member of its Republican majority.
$34.3 million: Total amount raised by the campaigns of Landrieu ($18.6 million), Cassidy ($13.2 million) and Maness ($2.5 million), making this the most expensive Senate election in Louisiana history (based on the most recently available federal filings). None of the other five candidates on the primary ballot raised as much as $10,000. In addition, outside political groups have spent additional millions on advertising to attack or support the candidates — but since Nov. 4, outside spending for Landrieu has dried up, while continuing at a vigorous level for Cassidy.
12,80: Ratings for Landrieu and Cassidy, respectively, by the American Conservative Union, based on their 2013 voting records in Congress. Landrieu ranks among the more conservative — or least liberal — Senate Democrats, while Cassidy is rated to the right of the average House Republican.