Election Standoff

October 30, 2014







The race between the Democrats and the Republicans for who will control both branches of Congress is coming to a head, with the midterm elections on Nov. 4.
In Louisiana, the Senate race is important on a national scale, as the GOP only needs a few seats to take control of that chamber.


“The Republicans have been so close in the past to unseating Landrieu,” said Jason Pigg, an associate professor of political sciences at Louisiana Tech. “She is their last sort of big target.”


This year the Republicans might have a chance. The results of polls conducted by Rasmussen Results and by Suffolk University Tuesday have Landrieu leading both Bill Cassidy and Rob Maness in the primary election.


However, unless Landrieu can pull in over 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election must be held. The same polls have her losing soundly to Cassidy in a runoff.


Landrieu’s popularity in the state has taken a hit since her backing of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.


“She voted for Obamacare as a tradeout vote to lift an offshore drilling moratorium,” said Tom Aswell, the editor of the political blog Louisiana Voice. Aswell, a longtime observer of Louisiana politics and culture, is a Tech journalism graduate and former editor of The Ruston Daily Leader.


Aswell said the decision has given Cassidy, the Republican frontrunner, ample ammunition against her.


“Cassidy has hung this decision around her neck and is kicking her down the road with it,” he said.


Aswell said the Obama connection will be Landrieu’s biggest hurdle.


“You’ve read about the Ebola quarantines? Well we have an Obama quarantine,” he said. “Nationwide, Democratic candidates do not want Obama anywhere near them,”Obama’s falling popularity seems to be poisonous to candidates. The last Gallup Poll put Obama’s approval rating at only 42 percent.


On a national scale, Louisiana’s senatorial seat is one of a few the GOP have their eyes on as a way to control that chamber.


But what would a GOP-controlled chamber mean for the country?


“Well, the big end result would be more of the same,” said Jason Pigg. “Which is gridlock.”


Pigg said the Republicans have been successful at blocking many of Obama’s attempts at action.


“I think most people watching the race don’t think it would make much of a difference at all which party controlled the Senate,” he said.


Pigg said this election does share similarities with the 2010 congressional races.


“The overall situation is similar, with low presidential approval ratings,” he said. “But one difference is fewer Tea Party activists.”


The Tea Party has been able to make an impact in Southern elections, though.


Earlier, this year, Miss. Senator Thad Cochran (R) was challenged by Chris McDaniel, a Tea Party-backed Republican candidate.


Cochran and McDaniel received 49 percent and 49.5 percent of the vote, respectively, and were forced into a runoff where Cochran won 51 percent to McDaniel’s 49 percent.


“The mainstream [Republicans] and the Tea Party are definitely fighting,” Aswell said. “But the bloom is off its rose for the Tea Party.”


Pigg said the Republicans seem to be the frontrunner for both the Louisiana election and the controllers of the Senate.


“However, nobody would be shocked if the Democrats barely hung on,” he said.


The Senate is not the only chamber the Republicans are predicted to win, however. The House is predicted to stay with the GOP, including Louisiana’s 5th District.


“The last poll had the incumbent leading,” said Gary Stokely, a registered pollster since 1980. “However, two polls back [Ralph] Abraham was leading and [Jamie] Mayo was second.”


The incumbent, Vance McAllister, who took office in a 2013 special election, was caught last year kissing an aide. McAllister is married with five children, and the aide was the wife of his childhood friend. He originally claimed he would not run before deciding to do so.


McAllister ran damage control this year, airing political ads of himself with his family and reiterating his Christian beliefs.


Aswell said most of the ads on both sides in this race have been negative.


“I haven’t seen anything positive this entire time,” he said. “Voters of this state are absolutely worn out. They want to turn the TV off.”


Aswell blames the number of ads on TV on SuperPACs, a form of political action committee.


“There are limits on what these SuperPACs can give to candidates, but there is no limit on ads,” he said. ‘They have all this cash, and they make it about the quantity of ads, not the quality.”


Stokely said McAllister’s ad makes sense, as any politicians running in this state must appeal to the family values voters.


“Everyone has to say that. I don’t care who you are,” he said. “Jamie Mayo has to say that.”


Stokely said McAllister’s incumbency will help him in the long run.


“A lot of voters say things like ‘if you can’t show me a better candidate I’ll vote for the person who is already here’,” said Stokely, who was previously a sociology professor at Tech.


Stokely did not completely disregard Mayo from the race either.


“If there is a high black turnout, Mayo has a chance,” he said. “Neither McAllister or Abraham will get a significant amount of the black vote.”


Stokely was not very impressed with voter turnout in the 5th district.


“Only 19 percent voted in the last district runoff,” he said. “Voter apathy is very strong. It’s a sad commentary, but an accurate one.”


He said that younger voters especially do not participate in the voting process.


“The people voting most are 55 and above,” he said. “For young voters, now is a pretty critical time to step up. It’s your country.”


Email comments to jts040@latech.edu.



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