BATON ROUGE — The number of registered Democrats continues a steady decline as 2014 Louisiana elections approach and U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu runs for re-election.
A decade ago, registered Democrats represented 56 percent of the state’s then 2.87 million voters. Today, the number sits at 47 percent — 1.38 million voters out of 2.9 million registrants.
The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1j3rG23 ) more than 250,000 white voters have left Democratic ranks during the past 10 years, about 150,000 since Landrieu last ran in 2008.
“The biggest story is the shift. We have not seen a change in total (voter) numbers; it’s pretty much back to pre-Hurricane Katrina. The big thing has been the shift of party affiliation,” away from the Democratic Party, but not wholesale to the GOP, said Secretary of State Tom Schedler.
Schedler said the high number of voters opting for “no party” affiliation is significant. With 809,753 registered voters, Republicans now account for 28 percent of the state’s total voting population. Twenty-five percent, 724,643, are registered with another party or no party.
“The nonaffiliated voters will be the ones who decide. They have become the key,” he said. “If I was running in that (Senate) race, I would be targeting that other party affiliation. Those are the people who are going to put people over the top.”
New Orleans demographer Greg Rigamer said the person who is registered Republican is a pretty predictable GOP vote, just as African-Americans are pretty consistent Democratic votes. “The African-American vote and the Republican vote negate each other (in numbers), and then you have this big white Democrat, other party, other race” vote, said Rigamer, whose clients include the state elections agency and Landrieu.
Political consultant Elliot Stonecipher, of Shreveport, said the election fight will ultimately come down to 10 percent of the vote. “The rest is pretty forecastable,” he said.
About 45 percent of Louisiana voters align themselves with the Democrats and another 45 percent align with Republicans, Stonecipher said. “The rest are the 10 percent who really don’t know what they are going to do,” he said.