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February 13, 2016

Landrieu’s Gun Vote: A Possible Political Explanation

Landrieu was one of two vulnerable Democrats up for re-election in 2014 in red states who voted in favor of the Manchin-Toomey gun amendment. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

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).

Landrieu always depends on a huge turnout in the black community and a near sweep of the black vote to win election, and voting against the president on guns might have poisoned her relationship with that community. And if Mary loses black voters, Mary can’t win.

In 2008, according to exit polling in the Senate contest, when she last stood for re-election, Landrieu won 96 percent of the black vote to 2 percent for Republican John Kennedy, the state treasurer. Interestingly, Landrieu received a larger percentage of the black vote in Louisiana than did Barack Obama (94 percent), according to the presidential exit poll.

Landrieu lost white voters to Kennedy, 65 percent to 33 percent, but she easily outperformed Obama that year among whites, since he carried just 14 percent of white voters in the state in his White House bid.

Landrieu ended up winning with 52 percent statewide, while Obama drew only 40 percent of the vote in the Pelican State.

Obviously, Landrieu needs to hit certain percentages of both black and white votes to win, but if politics starts with base voters, Landrieu knows which voters she can’t afford to lose during her 2014 re-election bid. She must have a huge black turnout, and she must win almost unanimous support in that community. Her support in the white community, after all, is not likely to increase between 2008 and 2014.

Of course, Landrieu has a problem. Black turnout is likely to drop off in the next midterm, just as it did between 2008 — when African-Americans constituted 29 percent of the electorate — and 2010, when they were only 24 percent of the electorate. If that happens again, Landrieu will have a huge political migraine. (Unfortunately, there was no Louisiana exit poll in 2012.)

So the Democratic senator needs to find ways to boost black turnout in 2014, and guns may be one way to do that.

So, while Sens. Begich, Pryor and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., need to be focused on their appeal with white, conservative voters, Mary Landrieu must have a very different constituency in mind as she approaches her bid for re-election next year. And her vote on the gun compromise actually makes political sense.

  • Yakov Lanskiy

    Black folks actually want to have guns, especially in a below the cotton curtain state like deep ‘sell ya down the river’ state like Louisiana. Historically blacks favored shotguns to the whites favored pistols. Landrieu’s vote will cost her here too. No one disses guns in the black community but a few media mavens lookin fer a quick buck from someone with an outsider ax to grind. Besides, black folks may not be ABLE to help her even if they wanted too. Over a half a million black people were ethnically cleansed out of Lousiana by white folks who under designed levee systems that failed and drowned the lower ninth ward of New Orleans in the Katrina disaster. That underdesign was a human failure most probably done on purpose…dirty deeds done cheap.

    • Notruthinpolitics

      I believe any gun legislation will adversely affect the black population more than the white.

      • Yakov Lanskiy

        dear ‘notruth’, you have a good head on your shoulders

  • don76550

    Landrieu’s vote will certainly bring out gun owners who don’t want politicians like Landrieu to take their guns away.

    • Someone

      Oh for the love of God. Nobody’s talking about taking anybody’s guns. Not Obama, not Feinstein, not Toomey and Manchin, and definitely not Landrieu.

      • don76550

        That is absolute crap. Feinstein and Obama are both on record as supporting the absolute banning of your right to own any gun. They said it, it is on record and anybody who disputes that is a liar. If Landrieu supports your gun rights, then why does she vote aginst them.

        • Someone

          Stop right there. Let’s just keep this at whether or not Landrieu wants to take them. This bill is not a ban on private ownership of firearms. It doesn’t create a national registry. It doesn’t even ban certain firearms or bullets. It just expands our existing background check system to sales at gun shows over the internet, far from a gun ban.

          • Jimboats

            ?? “Stop right there.”? “…keep this at whether or not Landrieu wants to take them.”?? No. You’re the one that started with “Nobody’s talking about taking anybody’s guns.” You didn’t limit the discussion to Landrieu until it blew up in your face.

          • Someone

            Honest mistake. Do you have any proof for either of them wanting to ban guns?

          • Someone

            Or Landrieu, for that matter. Because as stupid as I may have been, I still stand by my point that this isn’t a gun ban.

    • Yakov Lanskiy

      absolutely, and anyone that denies that Landrieu wants to grab your gun is hiding their apathetic and naive head in deep swamp muck.

  • quiller51

    Landrieu also needs women and, even in red states, a plurality of women in both parties support gun safety legislation. Landrieu’s vote makes sense when you look at the two elements of her base: black voters and female voters. She was never going to get white male voters so there is no reason for her to appease them.

    • Notruthinpolitics

      the gun bill had absolutely nothing to do with gun safety. Let’s not
      confuse background checks with keeping guns safe, or keeping guns out of
      the hands of criminals. Using the term “gun safety” is intellectually dishonest. You should be ashamed of yourself for trying to confuse people, or being ignorant of the truth.

      • quiller51

        Every day people who fail background checks at licensed dealers are denied the opportunity to purchase guns. Expanding the background check system would make it more difficult for prohibitted persons to obtain weapons and we will all be safer as a result.
        I am a gun owner and a responsible one. I will only purchase through licensed dealers and only sell to licensed dealers. My spouse and I have written instructions into our wills requiring the executor to liquidate our firearms by sale to licensed dealer.
        The Manchin bill was a start and I applaud Landrieu for supporting it. I do not claim that expanding background checks will eliminate all gun violence but it was a worthwhile start.

  • adastraperapathy

    It’s interesting that of the 13 southern states represented on the Confederate flag, only three of them still have women Senators, and all three of those are Democrats (McCaskill, Hagan, and Landrieu).

    The vain side of me would like to think Landrieu will win because of how gracefully she has aged. But much more than that, I’d like to believe she will win because more Blacks have had a chance to resettle in Louisiana, and that state’s politics will start to shift back to the center.

    Oh, and it’d be nice if our nation regained some sense when it comes to guns. Such that, universal background checks wouldn’t hurt any candidate in any state–especially considering the only people who would be effected are felons who can’t/shouldn’t vote anyway.

    • Notruthinpolitics

      felons do not submit themselves to background checks to purchase guns. Are you that dense? It would be a crime for a felon to be in possession of a gun- something they know. If a felon wants a gun, there are many other ways to get one other than purchasing it from a licensed dealer or at a gun show. I have no objection to background checks. I only object to misinformation and lies.

      • adastraperapathy

        Actually, the current background check law does prevent quite a few individuals from purchasing weapons. However, since it does not apply to gun show sales, online sales, or other private transactions, dealers can sell weapons to felons legally.

        Because we do not have universal background checks, it is as easy for a felon to get a gun as it is for a law-abiding citizen in many lawful situations.

        You are the one spreading lies by suggesting otherwise.

      • wildrover4

        Actually, in LA it is no longer a crime for a felon to possess a weapon. LA amended its constitution to protect gun rights and went too far.

      • Yakov Lanskiy

        In Cook County Illinois, Mr Obama’s stomping ground, it is illegal for a law abiding person to own a handgun, and difficult for legal ownership of other weapons too. However the Mafia, the Al Rukn, the Mara Salvatrucha and all the gang bangers have fully automatic weapons by the truckload. A guy I know was in the navy and on liberty in Waukegan and Chicago was approached on the streets by black market gun dealers that offered guns to him for sale that supposedly no i.d. marks. The creep also offered drugs and that person was a druggy too. So any crook who wants a gun in Chi town can get one. All he has to do is have the guts to wander downtown at nite and eventually he will get whatever he wants….drugs, sex, weapons..all courtesy of the Mafia and of gangbangers and now Russian Mafia too. Hey they had no fear of the KGB!! So what are the wimpy Chi town whorehouse guards gonna do to scare them??

  • poptoy1949

    Being from Louisiana I can honestly say that I pray everyday for her defeat.

    • Yakov Lanskiy

      Do not worry ‘Gen. Lee’! The bat sealed her ruined career with that gun vote.

  • wildrover4

    Her vote could be considered safe due to the unintended consequences of the recent amendment to the LA Constitution. Courts recently held that under the amendment, convicted felons could not be prohibited from owning firearms.

  • Gunluvr

    She’s shown that she’s an anti-gun restrictionist and cannot be trusted to protect the 2nd Amendment, she must go.

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