By Robert Mann
If you want to know why Sen. Mary Landrieu fared so poorly in Tuesday’s U.S. Senate primary? Or how Rep. Bill Cassidy lost so many votes to tea party challenger, Rob Maness? The answers are in the exit poll conducted on behalf of a consortium of national news media organizations.
The results show that Landrieu’s main problem was with white voters — white men, in particular.
When Landrieu won re-election in 2008, she garnered the votes of 32 percent of white men. This time, she got 15 percent of white men. Landrieu didn’t do much better with white women. In 2008, 34 percent of white women supported her. This time, that number dropped to 22 percent.
When it came to black voters, Landrieu held her own. Last time, she got 96 percent of the black vote; this time, 94 percent.
Edison Research did the exit polls for the news organizations that comprise the National Election Pool (NEP) – ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC and the Associated Press.
Below, I’ve compared the exit polls from Landrieu’s 2008 re-election to this time. The differences are striking and demonstrate why she’ll have a hard slog over the next 30-plus days. (The screen shots are from the CNN.com site, hyperlinked above.)
Consider this from 2014:
Compare to 2008 below. Notice Landrieu’s near collapse with white voters of both genders, particularly white men.
When it comes to race, Landrieu held her own with black voters. In fact, the black vote was a slightly larger percentage of the electorate in 2014 than in 2008, when President Obama was on the ballot. But, to make up for her collapse among white voters, Landrieu needed a strong turnout among black voters. She did not get it.
Here’s the exit poll numbers from 2014:
Here are 2008 exit poll numbers on race:
In 2008, Landrieu won every age group except for 65 and older, which she lost by 1 percentage point to her Republican opponent. This time, she won a majority of votes of those under age 44. Those groups, however, made up a smaller proportion of the electorate this time. In 2008, voters under age 44 made up 48 percent of the electorate. This year, that same group accounted for only 34 percent of the electorate. Young voters would have helped Landrieu improve her numbers, but they did not vote in large enough numbers this time.
This is the Louisiana electorate by age in 2014:
This is the Louisiana electorate by age in 2008:
The issues most important to Louisiana voters were vastly different this time, too. Health care and the economy were the issues most on voters’ minds on Tuesday. Landrieu won 56 percent of those who cared about health care, which suggests that Obamacare — while not popular in Louisiana — was not a strong driver in the vote against her.
On the economy, however, Landrieu lost badly to Cassidy and Maness. In 2008, before the recession, Landrieu dominated on the economy, winning 55 percent of the votes of those who said economic concerns were their highest priority.
Most important issues from 2014:
Landrieu also suffered greatly from her association with President Obama. While she got almost all the votes of those who voted to express support for Obama, not that many voters support the president. Only 18 percent voters said their votes were meant to support Obama. Of the 43 percent of voters who cast ballots to express opposition to the president, Cassidy and Maness got 95 percent. Clearly, Obama was — and is — a heavy weight around Landrieu’s neck.
There is still time for Landrieu to change the dynamics of the race and gain on Cassidy, but her climb will be very steep. Asked for whom they will vote in the Dec. 6 runoff, voters on Tuesday said: