Secretary of State: Voter Turnout Science Not Easy

Nov 13, 2015

Early voting for the November 21st runoff continues through Saturday, and Secretary of State Tom Schedler is not yet ready to predict whether voter turnout will exceed last month’s primary.

“You know, this science is not becoming any easier,” Schedler says, with a chuckle.

Turnout for the October 24th primary election was anything but amusing, at a dismal 38.5 percent.

“History would tell you, and data would tell you that we would be below 38-and-a-half percent,” Schedler says. “I think this time we’ll at least match that or maybe increase it, so goes along with everything else in politics today: it’s kind of going against the mainstream of what you would expect.”

Schedler is alluding to the polls in the governor’s race, which are showing Democrat John Bel Edwards leading Republican David Vitter, contradicting conventional wisdom. Are there other indicators that the polls may be right, like an uptick in early voting by African-Americans, who traditionally vote Democratic?

“We had, I think, a 25-point-something in October. We’re at about 26-percent, 26-point-1 or -2, so not a significant increase.”

With so much being made of David Vitter’s  prior moral failures, perhaps women are coming to vote at rates higher than their 54-percent majority of registered voters?

Schedler said he hasn’t broken out this early voting by gender, but, “We did see pretty much straight down those lines in October that female vote at that 54, 55-percent.”

Schedler says overall, 90 percent of those early voting this time also early voted in the October primary. He says that could be because they are habitual early-voters, have travel plans for election day, or have football or hunting plans that would conflict with going to vote on November 21st.  He says, frankly, it’s hard to interpret what any of this may mean for the final results.

“We think that we will do at least as good as October; maybe a few ticks above –maybe 40, 41, maybe even 42. But we’ll wait and kind of call that after Saturday.”