Donald Trump won 47 of the state’s 64 parishes in Louisiana’s Republican presidential primary, but his margin of victory came from racking up big vote totals in the New Orleans suburbs.
In most parishes, only a few percentage points separated the New York developer and reality television show host from his chief rival, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas. In only nine parishes did one of the candidates win outright, that is, polled at least 50 percent of the votes cast.
Cruz won majorities in 17 parishes, along the Sabine River, which borders Texas, and straddling Interstate 20 in north Louisiana. Cruz won the home parishes of most of the state’s largest cities: Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, Shreveport, Alexandria and Monroe, where the “Duck Dynasty” Robertson family came out strongly in support of Cruz over Trump, their fellow reality TV star.
Trump swept the rest of the state, including Lafayette Parish. But it was his commanding totals in the populous, GOP-dominated New Orleans suburbs that secured his margin of victory. He visited New Orleans on the Friday before the vote.
Trump polled 10,869 more votes than Cruz out of the 301,169 Republican ballots cast statewide. Trump received 7,234 more votes than Cruz in Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes alone.
“They may not be really happy with the Republican establishment over there,” Roy Fletcher, a veteran Baton Rouge political strategist for mainly Republican candidates, said Sunday night. “The guy seen as most anti-establishment clearly is Donald Trump. Correlation doesn’t mean causation, but it is interesting.”
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida, came in at a distant third across the state. He is backed by former Gov. Bobby Jindal and is seen by many as the candidate Republican leaders would most like to see win.
Specific demographic and precinct numbers from Saturday’s primary election aren’t all in yet, but the trend seems to be that the GOP turnout was up 12 percent — to 36.3 percent of all registered Republicans — over the 2012 presidential primary. When comparing the latest numbers available with 2012 results, Fletcher said, it appears that parishes with the biggest increases in turnout are the same parishes where Trump did best.
“The turnout ratios, when the data is in, will tell you if Trump won with the establishment or did he turn out Republicans who don’t usually vote,” he said.
The Republican Party of Louisiana on Sunday was still waiting for the numbers to be finalized so they can distribute delegates under their rules.
On the Democratic Party side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton overwhelmed her closest rival, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, by 150,375 votes statewide in that party’s presidential primary.
Sanders did well in pockets, such as the predominantly white Baton Rouge precincts near LSU. But he trailed Clinton by 24,990 votes in East Baton Rouge Parish, where almost 31 percent of the registered Democrats went to the polls.
Sanders won two of Louisiana’s 64 parishes: Cameron on the coast and LaSalle in the central part of the state. Both of those parishes had a light turnout of only a handful of registered Democratic Party voters. For instance, he won Cameron Parish by nine votes out of the 329 cast and by 48 votes out of the 451 cast in LaSalle Parish.
The Louisiana Democratic Party announced Sunday afternoon that based on Clinton’s overwhelming win, she would be awarded 37 delegates and three alternates. Sanders would receive 14 delegates and one alternate.
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