Turnout in Orleans Parish for the first day of early voting for the Dec. 6 election was 21 percent higher than it was on the first day of early voting for the Nov. 4 primary, according to results released Monday by Clerk of Criminal District Court Arthur Morrell.
A little more than 3,700 people voted Saturday. That compares with 2,962 voters who cast ballots on Oct. 21, a Tuesday, Morrell said.
As is traditionally the case with early voting in Orleans Parish, black voters outnumbered white voters. About 64 percent of Saturday’s early voters in Orleans Parish were black.
However, black voters made up a smaller percentage than in October. On the first day of early voting in the primary, black voters accounted for 72.6 percent of those casting ballots.
There was a similar uptick in the percentage of white voters statewide Saturday. White voters made up 72 percent of all voters on the first day of early voting. During last month’s seven-day early voting period, they made up 65 percent of all voters.
If that trend continues, it would paint a “pretty dismal” picture for incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu, who is in a runoff race with Republican challenger Bill Cassidy for a U.S. Senate seat, analyst David Huynh, of Win Partners, said.
“There’s definitely a lack of enthusiasm” from Landrieu’s base, Huynh said. “It’s all pointing toward a bleak outlook for Landrieu.”
The three-term senator received 618,840 votes, or 42 percent, to Cassidy’s 602,439, or 40.9 percent, in the primary. Tea party Republican Rob Maness took 13.7 percent. The remainder of the vote was split among five other candidates.
In addition to the Senate race, area voters will decide a number of other runoffs, including a district attorney’s race in St. Tammany Parish and a parish president’s contest in Plaquemines.
Voters in St. Charles and St. John the Baptist parishes will be among those voting in the 6th Congressional District race between former Gov. Edwin Edwards, a Democrat, and former Jindal administration official Garret Graves, a Republican, for the congressional seat now held by Cassidy.
Except in St. John, all area voters will cast ballots for a seat on the state Public Service Commission. Incumbent Eric Skrmetta faces challenger Forest Bradley Wright.
In Orleans Parish, the ballot also includes a Civil District Court judgeship, a Juvenile Court judgeship and a 10-year, 4.97-mill Orleans Parish School Board tax proposition.
In Jefferson Parish, the ballot includes a 24th Judicial District Court judgeship, a 1st Parish Court judgeship, two School Board seats, a justice of the peace, a constable and 11 amendments to the parish’s Home Rule Charter.
In St. Tammany Parish, the headline race is the runoff for district attorney of the 22nd Judicial District, which also includes Washington Parish. There also are runoffs for mayor, police chief and three Board of Aldermen seats in Pearl River, plus a mayor’s runoff in Folsom.
The St. Bernard Parish ballot includes a 34th Judicial District Court judgeship, an amendment to the parish charter and 12 millage propositions, mostly renewals.
Despite the strong start to early voting, Morrell said he doesn’t expect the total number of early votes for the Dec. 6 election to exceed the total for the primary.
There will be two fewer early voting days, for a total of five instead of the usual seven, this election cycle. Early voting ends Saturday, but it will be closed Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Morrell said early voting totals may be further depressed in New Orleans by Saturday’s Bayou Classic football game.