Louisiana, Election Night 2019: What to Watch Guide

What to watch for, Louisiana Edition

Tonight, voters will decide who will be the next Governor of Louisiana and whether Republicans will gain a supermajority in the State House. They already clinched a supermajority in the Senate during the “all-party primary” election in September. You can see the updated State Senate and State House maps on our website.

With just a few hours to go before polls close, here’s what to watch for in the governor’s race and major contests in the State House. Let’s start on the gubernatorial front, where incumbent Democrat John Bel Edwards (JBE) is running a close race with Republican Eddie Rispone. We’ll update this as a live blog throughout the evening, so pop back in through the night.

JBG DON DID IT @ 11:00 pm

Geaux Dems! Democrats survive in the South. JBE has been re-elected.

And here’s what else: Adams has won in HD 62 and Cormier (D) in HD 105 is leading. For now, the Democrats have held off a supermajority.

Next week, we’ll dive into what this means for the future of the country and the 2020 elections.

Good night.

Ragin’ Cajuns @ 10:20 pm

Even though JBE is behind in the votes counted so far, he appears to be “ahead.” Many of the R-leaning counties are coming in, with plenty of vote left out in places like Baton Rouge and New Orleans. A more comes in, Edwards is rapidly approaching a lead.

What to keep an eye on: There are over 100 precincts out in Caddo Parish (Shreveport), 200 East Baton Rouge Parish (Baton Rouge), and 200 in Orleans Parish (New Orleans). If JBE keeps up his margins, he might be on the way to a decent victory.

Where could Rispone make things up? Ouachita Parish, where Trump rallied earlier this week, still has half of its precincts out. That could be a big Republican vote source. Watch out.

I’ve updated the three state legislative seats below. Two pieces of good news, the Independent is ahead in 62 and the Dem is now leading in 105 but it is close. Unfortunately, Dems have now lost in 50, which means the I and the D in 62 and 105 must win, at least one of them, to keep the house from falling to a supermajority.

Initial Update @ 9:35 pm

With the early vote coming in, the consensus is this in the governor’s race: Edwards is getting the margins he needs, but we don’t know what the Election Day Vote looks like. If the Trump push and Republicans coming home starts to change these margins, it could be trouble.

Still early in the state house races. Will update more soon!

The Suburbs

All across the country, Democrats are doing better in the suburbs. If the general nationalization of elections everywhere continues, we expect JBE’s success to depend in large part on the suburbs outside Shreveport (Caddo Parish), Baton Rouge (East Baton Rouge Parish), and New Orleans (Jefferson Parish). He needs to run up big margins there.

The Cities

JBE is going to need exceptionally good turnout in Baton Rouge and New Orleans proper (Orleans Parish), as well. The early indication is that black early voting is as high as it was in Obama election years. That is a tentatively good sign. We caution against reading too much into early voting—unless it is Nevada and your name is Jon Ralston—as more and more people are voting early every year. That means that many candidates are “cannibalizing” their Election Day vote during early voting, not adding all that many more voters. It’s a reason to be cautious.

Cajun Country

If the suburbs are trending Democrats’ way, rural areas are going against us hard. We will repeat again and again that this is bad, as it is very challenging to accumulate enough votes in cities and suburbs if you’re losing 70-30 in rural areas. Andy Beshear wins in Kentucky two weeks ago in part because he held his own in Appalachia and other rural areas.

The region that will be most interesting on this front, in my mind, is Cajun Country in the southwest of the state. Not all of that area is rural—Lafayette and Lake Charles are real places. But what’s intriguing is that this is the home country of Ralph Abraham, the Republican Congressman that Rispone beat in the primary. Will we see turnout drop-offs as Cajuns decide to stay home rather than vote for Rispone?


Monroe, in Ouachita Parish, is Eddie Rispone’s home base. He should win big in northeast Louisiana as he did in the primary. What interests us is to see how big—Trump had a rally there two days ago—and we’re trying to better understand whether that is moving the needle.

State Legislative Elections

We are too depressed about the state of the Senate to cover it. We’ll be focusing in on the House.

Republican-Leaning Democratic Pickup Opportunity

Because the Louisiana Democratic Party concluded not to recruit candidates to run in the few most winnable races, there is only one seat on our radar for a Democratic pickup: District 105, which stretches from New Orleans to the Gulf of Mexico, is an R+3 district with a competitive Democrat. We’re hopeful we can snag that race as part of fending off the Republican supermajority. 

Update: The Democrat is leading 52%-48% with 86% reporting.

Democratic/Independent Defense

With the substantial losses by Democrats in Louisiana over the last decade—Democrats controlled the legislature until the 2011 election—the “Democratic” seats we need to hold are two independents who can keep the GOP from a supermajority. Below lists where we are rooting for the I against the R tonight. Both will be a challenge, but it will be an interesting test for the idea of a “Cajun Party,” an independent political movement in a red state that can respond both to voters’ desires for more Democratic policies and to their distaste for the Democratic brand.

House District LDI Dem % GOP % Margin % Reporting
50 -15   42%58%   -16%   100%  
62 -12 54%   46%   10%   97%  

Bottom Line

We think JBE has a good chance to be re-elected. It is a good night for America when Democrats are elected in challenging places. What will be trouble is if he is neutered by a Republican supermajority.

More broadly, it will be important to understand whether Democrats can get out of the “gain in suburbs and lose in rurals” framework. That will be important for the Senate and the states in 2020.

We’ll see what happens.