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October 31, 2014

Posts in "Louisiana"

October 17, 2014

Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Race Ratings Changes

 Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Race Ratings Changes

Nunn is challenging Perdue for Georgia Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

While national polls show a stable landscape, polls in individual races continue to show some movement. That movement leads us to make a number of changes to our Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call ratings.

Most of the House changes benefit the GOP, while the Senate and governor changes are far more mixed.

Senate Changes:

  • Georgia (GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss is retiring) from Republican Favored to Leans Republican.
  • Louisiana Senate (Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu) from Pure Tossup to Tossup/Tilts Republican.

(Read more about the Senate changes in the Oct. 17 Rothenberg Political Report ($))

House Changes: Full story

September 30, 2014

Family Ties May Not Be Enough to Save Vulnerable Senators

 Family Ties May Not Be Enough to Save Vulnerable Senators

Landrieu may not be laughing come November. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It seems like everyone wrote the story: Family political dynasties were supposed to save Mark Begich, Mark Pryor and Mary L. Landrieu, the trio of vulnerable Democratic senators running for re-election in Republican-leaning states.

But as the sports adage says, “That’s why they play the games.”

The three Democrats’ strong family connections to voters in Alaska, Arkansas and Louisiana respectively has been one of the most popular narratives of the 2014 cycle. Roll Call, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Newsweek and National Journal all wrote similar stories, just to mention a few.

But with five weeks to go before Election Day, Pryor, Begich and Landrieu are even more vulnerable than they were when the cycle started. And their Democratic colleague, North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, is arguably in better position for re-election, even though she lacks a similar political pedigree. Full story

September 23, 2014

Fight for Senate Control Down to Five States

With six weeks to go, the fight for control of the Senate is down to five states, four of them currently held by Democrats.

Republicans must win only two of those contests to guarantee the 51 seats they need to control the Senate for the last two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. And they need to win only one of the Democratic states if they hold the only GOP seat at serious risk.

While things could still change — and national polls continue to show an environment that may produce a substantial GOP wave in the House and Senate — the Senate battle has boiled down to two reliably red states and three swing states.

Full story

August 28, 2014

Top 5 Races to Watch in the South

 Top 5 Races to Watch in the South

Landrieu’s race could decide the majority. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The South continues to be dominated by big Senate races, with a couple of interesting House races sprinkled in for fun.

There have been two changes to the 5 races to watch list since last summer. North Carolina’s 7th District dropped off after Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre chose retirement instead of another competitive race against Republican David Rouzer. The Kentucky Senate race is still competitive between Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, but everyone will be watching that race regardless of whether I include it on the list.

Here are the top five races to watch in the South next year: Full story

April 11, 2014

Democratic Senate Prospects and the New Black Voter

Democrats plan to turn out thousands of African-American voters this fall, in an effort to hold the Senate majority. The challenge is that some of them aren’t yet registered to vote.

Which begs the question, after opportunities to elect and re-elect the first black president, why would an African-American choose this year’s midterm elections to finally jump from the sidelines and into the game?

This question especially matters given that contests in North Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, Michigan and Louisiana will help determine control of the Senate.

Democratic strategists believe there is low-hanging fruit in the black populations in Arkansas and Louisiana, where Democrats are defending seats, because those states never saw a well-financed and organized get-out-the-vote effort from President Barack Obama’s campaign. After all, neither state was regarded as competitive in the past two presidential races.

This cycle, Democrats on the House and Senate sides are investing unprecedented amounts of money into their party’s ground game for the midterm elections. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is set to spend $60 million on 4,000 staff in top states through the Bannock Street Project to get out the vote.

Part of that effort is focused on boosting black turnout from traditional midterm levels to something closer to presidential levels in Arkansas and Louisiana, as well as one of the Democrats’ best pickup opportunities in Georgia, and potentially Michigan and North Carolina — both of which saw plenty of attention in 2008 and 2012.

Democrats are encouraged by the Obama campaign’s ability to boost the black percentage of the vote in Ohio from 11 percent in 2008 to 15 percent in 2012. (Interestingly, the 2010 exit poll in Ohio found blacks constituting 15 percent of the state electorate in that midterm, two years before the Democrats’ major effort in the Buckeye State.)

But it’s one thing to boost African-American turnout in a year when the first black president is seeking re-election, and it is something very different to boost that same turnout during a midterm.

One of the biggest challenges facing Democrats this cycle is enthusiasm. Dan Balz had a good piece on this in The Washington Post after the special election in Florida’s 13th District.

And the African-American community is not immune from the enthusiasm challenge. Democratic strategists aren’t eager to reveal the specific messages they will use to mobilize black voters, but they are likely to try to rally those potential voters around the president and his legislative agenda, including issues of equality and fairness, such as a minimum wage increase, equal pay for women and an immigration overhaul.

Complicating the task is that Democratic strategists will be asking these new black voters to support vulnerable Democratic senators such as Mary L. Landrieu, Mark Pryor and candidates such as Michelle Nunn, each of who must demonstrate a level of independence from Obama’s agenda in order to remain competitive with white voters.

Even if Democrats succeed in registering and turning out more black voters, they will only affect total turnout in those contests at the margins. Of course, in razor thin margins, that could be enough to matter.

In Arkansas, Democrats estimate that there are 121,000 unregistered African-Americans by using census data. By registering a fraction of that population (even somewhere between 10 percent and 30 percent), Democratic strategists believe it could tilt the outcome of the race between Pryor and GOP Rep. Tom Cotton.

The black population of Arkansas is 15 percent. In the 2008 presidential election, black voters made up 12 percent of the electorate, according to exit polls. In the 2010 midterms, black voters made up 11 percent of the electorate. Because the media consortium chose to cut back its exit polling operation, there is no exit poll data for Arkansas for 2012.

Of the top 14 Senate races, Arkansas is one of seven states where the black population cracks double digits. The other states include Louisiana (32 percent), North Carolina (21 percent), Michigan (14 percent), Virginia (19 percent) and Georgia (30 percent).

The other half of the Senate playing field includes states with miniscule black populations. Those states include Alaska (3 percent), Colorado (4 percent), Iowa (3 percent), New Hampshire (1 percent), West Virginia (3 percent), South Dakota (1 percent) and Montana (less than 1 percent).

In Georgia, Democrats are excited about the long-term demographic trends in the state, but strategists believe there is a short-term opportunity to increase black turnout this year. There are an estimated 375,000 African-American voters who voted in 2012 but not 2010, and 572,000 African-Americans still unregistered. And in Louisiana, where Landrieu is running for re-election, Democrats estimate 185,000 African-Americans voted in 2012 but not 2010, and another 228,000 African-Americans are unregistered.

The New York Times did a nice piece on the relationship between the Landrieu family and black voters going back to the senator’s father and up to her brother’s recent mayoral election in New Orleans.

In 2008, black voters made up 29 percent of the vote in the senator’s re-election race, according to the exit poll. Landrieu won the black vote, 96 percent to 2 percent but lost the white vote to Republican John Kennedy 65 percent to 33 percent in her 52 percent statewide victory. Two years later in the midterm, the black percentage of the electorate slipped to 24 percent.

Theoretically there is also an opportunity to increase black turnout in Michigan. The Obama campaign was able to increase black turnout from 12 percent in 2008 to 16 percent in 2012, and there are an estimated 304,000 unregistered African-Americans in the state. But in midterms, black voters have made up closer to 10 percent of the electorate, according to pollsters who have worked in the state.

Considering long-term historical trends, increasing African-American turnout in a midterm election looks like a long shot or bank shot for Democrats. But for their strategists and campaigns, having a plan and being proactive sounds much better than simply waiting on the shore to be hit by a wave.

January 7, 2014

Early TV Ads: Not New and Mostly a Waste of Money

By mid-December, more than $17.5 million had been spent on TV ads in just four Senate contests: in North Carolina ($8.3 million), Kentucky ($3.5 million), Arkansas ($3.4 million) and Louisiana ($2.3 million), according to a recent piece by Roll Call’s Kyle Trygstad.

The numbers are interesting and newsworthy. But it’s important to understand the dirty little secret of early TV ads: At the end of the day, most of the ads, and most of the money spent on them, won’t make a dime’s worth of difference in the November results.

I know because I’ve seen this movie before — almost 30 years ago. Full story

December 13, 2013

Louisiana Ad Could Preview 2014 Democratic Playbook

A new television ad by a Democratic-aligned super PAC in Louisiana is more than an early attack ad in an important Senate race. It’s an important sneak peek into what Democratic ads could look like in races all over the country next year.

First reported by Roll Call, Senate Majority PAC’s first ad in the Bayou State criticizes GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy for voting to raise the retirement age, “to raise Medicare costs $6,000 per year” and to shut down the federal government. Cassidy is challenging Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu.

Full story

December 12, 2013

The DNC’s Deceptive Message on Louisiana

I wasn’t surprised to get an email recently from a regional Democratic National Committee press secretary seeking to tarnish the credentials of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

After all, Jindal has become an outspoken Republican elected official and is mentioned as a possible contender for president in 2016. And if national Democrats can soften him up now, maybe that will help the prospects of the state’s senior senator, Mary L. Landrieu, who is up for re-election next year.

Still, the DNC email raised a question because it included this quote from the Times-Picayune, the largest newspaper in the state: “Jindal’s meager record at home won’t get him to the White House.”

Screen shot 2013 12 12 at 10.11.01 AM 445x183 The DNCs Deceptive Message on Louisiana

(Screenshot)

Full story

November 5, 2013

Correcting the (Politico) Record on Louisiana

I had to laugh when I saw the headline in the Nov. 4 paper edition of Politico: “Louisiana Key to GOP Senate Control.”

Of course the Pelican State is a key. But so are Alaska, North Carolina, Kentucky, Montana and at least a couple of other states. They are all keys, since they all play a part in the GOP’s effort to net six Senate seats a year from now. Louisiana is no more of a key than any of those other states.

But it wasn’t only the headline that caught my attention. There was also an odd assertion that if additional Republicans enter the Senate race, the GOP vote would be split. “That will increase the chances that Landrieu could win outright with more than 50 percent of the vote — or the Republican candidate will be badly bruised heading into the runoff.”

Of course, the first point is simply wrong, while the second conclusion is speculative. Full story

October 30, 2013

In Louisiana, Democrats Doth Protest Too Much

pledge024 092310 226x335 In Louisiana, Democrats Doth Protest Too Much

Cassidy is running for Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

If you were a Democrat who thought the GOP was heading toward selecting a weak nominee incapable of beating Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., next year, would you tear down that damaged candidate, knowing that it might bring stronger hopefuls into the race? Or would you keep your mouth shut, so Republicans would nominate the sure loser?

The answer is obvious, which is why all the huffing and puffing by the Campaign for Louisiana, a project of the Louisiana Democratic Party, about how terrible Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy’s Senate campaign is doesn’t make much sense.

It doesn’t make sense, unless, of course, the folks at the Campaign for Louisiana are worried about Cassidy and are simply using every opportunity to try to discredit him. Now that would be shocking, wouldn’t it? Full story

August 7, 2013

Rodney Alexander Will Take Post in Jindal Administration

alexander 029 0801121 445x287 Rodney Alexander Will Take Post in Jindal Administration

Alexander is leaving Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Rodney Alexander isn’t wasting any time leaving Congress. The Louisiana Republican is expected to be appointed to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s cabinet at an event this afternoon.

According to GOP sources, Jindal will announce Alexander as the new head of the Louisiana Department of Veteran Affairs at an event in Monroe (located within Alexander’s 5th District) at 2:30 p.m. Full story

July 11, 2013

Top 5 Races to Watch in the South

This cycle, the South is dominated by competitive Senate races. That doesn’t mean there won’t be critical House races (including Florida’s 18th and 26th districts) or other interesting contests (such as the crowded Republican primary in Georgia).

Here are the top five races to watch in the South next year:

Arkansas Senate. Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat, is one of the most vulnerable senators in the country, and he represents a state where President Barack Obama has never been popular. Republicans are likely to nominate Rep. Tom Cotton, who appears to be a rare breed in that he appeals to both the tea party and the establishment. If Republicans can’t defeat Pryor, they ain’t getting back to the majority anytime soon. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Rating: Pure Toss-Up. Full story

April 19, 2013

Landrieu’s Gun Vote: A Possible Political Explanation

landrieu041913 445x296 Landrieu’s Gun Vote: A Possible Political Explanation

Landrieu’s voting record stands out from other vulnerable Democrats up for re-election next year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Three red-state Democratic senators up for re-election next year – Alaska’s Mark Begich, Arkansas’ Mark Pryor and Montana’s Max Baucus – voted against the gun control measure offered by Sens. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., and Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., but not Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu.

Republicans are already licking their chops, barely able to hide their glee and control their euphoria. And they may well defeat Landrieu next year, when she seeks a fourth term. But anyone who thinks Landrieu is politically deaf ought to think again.

I don’t know whether Landrieu can survive her gun vote – or her votes for the Democratic Senate budget and the Obama health care bill – but the veteran Democrat certainly had political reasons for doing what she did on guns (if politics was part of her calculation). Full story

March 29, 2013

What State Political Trends Portend for the 2014 Midterms

PryorCollins032813 445x267 What State Political Trends Portend for the 2014 Midterms

Neither Pryor, left, or Collins have a party identification that fits with the political bend of their state. But while Collins has a strong brand and is not viewed as particularly vulnerable in 2014, Pryor is a top target for Republicans. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Correction, 2:12 p.m. | There probably isn’t a better demonstration of the nation’s partisan political polarization than the makeup of the Senate. Only 17 states have split delegations, while 33 states have either two Republicans or two Democrats (or two senators who caucus with the same party, in the case of independents).

Compare those numbers to the Senate makeup three decades ago, and the change is clear. After the 1982 elections, 24 states had split delegations, while 26 had two members of the same party.

Some of the changes show how state (and national) politics have evolved.

Thirty years ago, Kentucky had two Democratic senators, Walter Huddleston and Wendell Ford. But in 1984, Ronald Reagan carried the state by almost 20 points, running so strongly that he helped drag in an obscure GOP Senate nominee. That upset winner, Mitch McConnell, narrowly defeated Huddleston to begin the state’s transformation into a Republican stronghold in federal races. Full story

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