Landrieu’s Three Senate Victories By Parish

If current polling trends hold, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’s path to a fourth term is extraordinarily narrow, although she is clinging to a slight advantage in the race as an incumbent and chairwoman.

Open primary polls consistently show Landrieu falling short of a majority needed to avoid a December runoff, while recent polling of runoff scenarios between the New Orleans Democrat and Congressman Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, show a tight race within or near the margin of error.

This will not be Landrieu’s first close election. She coasted to a 6-point victory in 2008 over Treasurer John Kennedy and her first re-election campaign in 2002 ended with a 4-point win over Suzanne Haik Terrell, who was serving as the state’s last election commissioner.

Both election results represented an incremental expansion of Landrieu’s constituency beyond the 50.1 percent she won in her historically tight 1996 victory over Woody Jenkins.

A closer look at the parish-level results from these three elections, along with the 1984 and 1990 Senate races won by Democrat J. Bennett Johnston, reveals some dynamics that could be factors this fall. There are a wide range of other issues at play in this race that transcend geography, including President Barack Obama's dismal popularity among Louisiana voters, Landrieu's endorsement of health care reform and the prospect of lower black turnout in a midterm election than in 2008.

Louisiana Democratic Party and Landrieu campaign officials aren't publicly offering any insights into their parish-level strategy this fall. 

"We're focused on targeting and talking with individual voters about the issues that matter to them, and we're building the grassroots infrastructure to do just that," said Landrieu Campaign Communications Director Fabien Levy. "A voter in Tensas Parish counts the same as a voter in Orleans Parish, and we're going to make sure every single Landrieu voter turns out this November, no matter where they live."

Here are a few things that jump out when focusing on election returns at the parish level:

— Landrieu’s 1996 win was geographically narrow, with the Democrat claiming only 25 parishes to Jenkins’ 39. She has expanded her reach throughout the state since, particularly in rural parishes, carrying 38 parishes in 2008. However, her share of those rural parishes declined in 2008, as John Couvillon with JMC Enterprises of Louisiana notes in his April analysis of Landrieu’s chances. Couvillon argues that Landrieu's 2002 results in rural parishes were also likely bolstered by her opposition to an unpopular Bush administration deal to increase sugar imports from Mexico. Whether she can maintain support in these parishes this fall is an open question.

— The 2008 election was the first time Landrieu carried the parishes of Jefferson, Plaquemine and St. Bernard. In 1996, Jenkins roundly defeated Landrieu among Jefferson voters, who favored the Republican candidate by a margin of 26,424 votes. Landrieu closed the gap six years later but still lost the parish to Terrell by more than 14,000 votes. In 2008 Landrieu, who was by then the state’s senior senator, reversed the trend in Jefferson and took the parish by a 12,000-vote margin. That’s a 20-point swing in one of the state’s most populous parishes over three election cycles. It’s worth noting that such a dramatic shift came in a parish that favored John McCain over President Barack Obama by 26 points. Many close observers, including Couvillon, attribute her success in this region to a “post-Katrina bump” in her first election following the storm.

— Over time Landrieu has managed to turn blue 10 parishes that David Duke carried in his infamous 1990 run against incumbent Sen. J. Bennett Johnston. She has won Avoyelles, Webster, Red River and Concordia (each in 1996, 2002 and 2008); Catahoula (2002); Evangeline, Washington and Morehouse (2002 and 2008); as well as Jefferson and St. Bernard (2008).

— Acadiana has been a mixed bag for Landrieu. She’s never carried Lafayette or Acadia parishes and she has both won and lost in St. Landry, Vermilion, Iberia, St. Martin and Evangeline.

— Landrieu has never lost Calcasieu Parish. Former President Bill Clinton’s 1996 campaign stop in Lake Charles may have helped her narrowly defeat Jenkins in the southwest Louisiana parish later that year, and she has increased her advantage ever since — outperforming Obama in Calcasieu by 14 points in 2008.

— The 2008 election represented the height of Landrieu’s federal electoral popularity around the state. Her 38 parishes and 988,298 votes were the most she has ever received in a Senate election. Yet Landrieu’s victory that year was not the most decisive ever earned by a Louisiana Democratic in a Senate race. That honor belongs to Johnston, who swept all 64 parishes in 1984.

LaPolitics Weekly: Treasurer, polls, booze lawsuit, names for Jeff sheriff & more!

The LW word balloon shows we spent quite a bit of time on campaigns this week. But subscribers to LaPolitics Weekly received much more than

Sponsored: Inside The Louisiana Bar Association

With more than 22,000 lawyers across the state as members, the Louisiana Bar Association represents the full breadth of the political

POD: The World According To Billy

  SEASON 2, EPISODE 13: THE WORLD ACCORDING TO BILLY Get inside the mind of Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser with this episode of The

Political Birthdays & Dates Of Note For The Week Ahead

— Tuesday 07/25: Tammy Dupuy Langlois and Shala Carlson — Wednesday 07/26: Former Rep. Jeff Arnold and Joshua Hollins — Thursday

New Orleans Politics & Elections

— Jeff Crouere’s Politics With A Punch is Thursday evening (door at 6 p.m., show at 8 p.m.) at the Eiffel Society in New Orleans. Guests:

Political Chatter Worth Tracking

— The first notable endorsement of the election season is here. The Jefferson Parish Republican Executive Committee has given an official

The Phone Call

Dig this… From Politico: “House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the Louisiana Republican nearly killed at a June congressional baseball

A Better Month For JBE

According to The AP’s Melinda Deslatte, “Gov. John Bel Edwards must be wishing that all months could be like this one.” Why is he having

Tough Month For Broome

“She made a decision on a good man, a good person, a good law enforcement officer, and it will come back to haunt her.” That was what

Today In Political History

— July 26, 1805: The term of New Orleans Mayor James Pitot ends. The third mayor to serve, Pitot is also believed to be the first American

There’s A New Sheriff In Town

What? Huh? You heard right. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand, arguably one of the most popular and well-known sheriffs in Louisiana,

LaHistory: The Shortest Session Ever

  In roughly two weeks we’ll be able to give a nod to the 58th anniversary (Aug. 10, 1959) of the shortest session ever held by the

ICYMI: House Chairs Seem Set

At one point during this year’s trio of legislative sessions few knew what the future held for some of the caucus and delegation chairmen in

When Politics & Law Enforcement Collide

Louisiana has been parked at the intersection of hard-nosed politics and law enforcement controversy for an entire year. First it was a

LaPolitics Weekly: Subpoenas, Trump, EWE & The Senate President Race

Here's a look at the stories published for subscribers of LaPolitics Weekly on Thursday, July 20, 2017. Not yet part of the LaPolitics

DID YOU KNOW? 4 Fast Facts On The Legislature

1.) Members of the Louisiana Legislature were elected every two years until 1880, when voters began selecting members of the House and

Sponsored: The Walts Recipe (For Work, Life & Tacos)

The Walts Recipe (For Work, Life & Tacos) Nic Walts may have grown up surfing and playing beach volleyball in his origin state of

PODCAST: Governors & Money

SEASON 2, EPISODE 12: GOVERNORS & MONEY In her very first public interview, Allee Bautsch Grunewald explains how she became Bobby

NEW ISSUE: The Tracker Has Dropped

Good afternoon, Trackers. This is the first full week of the 2017 election cycle. If you're in one of the big races and you don't have a

Schroder Raising Money To Count Money

— If cash is king in the treasurer’s race then former Rep. John Schroder is holding the crown. With $638,000 in his campaign war chest

Six Political Takeaways

1.) ANOTHER CONTROVERSY Fox 8’s Lee Zurik: “State Police commissioner (Calvin Braxton) accused of fixing tickets, threatening trooper…

Political Birthdays For The Week (And Other Notable Dates)

— Tuesday 07/18: Rep. Tony Bacala, Margo DuBos, John DeSantis and Chris Guillory — Wednesday 07/19: Ron Faucheux, David Tatman, Keith

Notes From The Field & Political Chatter

— Gov. John Bel Edwards was in Shreveport and Monroe today to announce the award of Hazard Mitigation Grant Program dollars to several local

LaHISTORY: JFK & The Rice Festival

Since its inaugural year of 1937, the International Rice Festival in Crowley has drawn thousands of visitors to the Acadia Parish town that

Lack Of Candidates = 54% Of Ballot Settled

Even though qualifying just wrapped up last week and the primary elections will not be held for another three months, 54 percent of the