Thursday, November 17, 2016

Democrats Can't Write Off the Last Senate Race

Democrats Can’t Write Off the Last Senate Race. “Louisiana’s unusual electoral system features an ”all comers“ election on Nov. 8, followed by a runoff between the top two finishers, regardless of party. This year, there was no strong favorite for the open senate seat, and Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy and Democratic Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell wound up in the runoff, despite taking only 25 percent and 17 percent of the vote, respectively.”

National Democrats are apparently playing down the election, which has received practically no attention at all in the national media. I think that’s an odd choice.

This is true. I hadn’t heard of this until this morning.

For one thing, the seat is certainly extremely important just in terms of the Senate balance. Republicans have ambitious plans but a slim margin in the Senate to make them into reality. In the Senate, every seat is important: The chances of passing a major health-insurance-reform bill or anything else – or the ability to eliminate the filibuster – are much stronger with 52 seats (plus the tie-breaker vote from the vice-president) than with 51 seats. And that’s just for now, of course; the chosen candidate in Louisiana receives a six-year term, and we have no way of knowing whether we’ll have a one-seat margin in Senate control at some point within that timeline.

I remember reading a few years ago, probably in 2009–2011 when the Democrats had 51 Senators (or perhaps in 2007–09 when they had 49 with two caucusing independents), it meant that every vote counted and it empowered every Senator to demand stuff for their cooperation. Given how some Republicans feel about Trump, that would be a fun dynamic to watch for the next two years.

The Republican candidate, Kennedy, is a heavy favorite but:

On the other hand … Democrat John Bel Edwards easily won Louisiana’s gubernatorial election just last year. Runoff elections are typically very-low-turnout affairs, where strong passions on one side can produce unusual outcomes – and it’s certainly possible that a reaction for or against Trump’s election could produce an unexpected one-sided turnout surge.

The rest of the article makes the point that there is little downside in the Democrats making a hard push for this seat.

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