By Robert Mann
By now, it seems clear that former Bobby Jindal aide Garret Graves will handily defeat former Gov. Edwin Edwards for the 6th district congressional seat. Graves will be going to Congress in January unless, as Graves suggested on election night, Edwards knocks him off.
Graves shouldn’t worry about his safety. Edwards knows he cannot win and doesn’t really want the job. He just wants the attention, which he will get over the next four weeks.
It’s really fairly simple math and it doesn’t add up to Edwards winning a congressional seat.
This is the 24th most Republican congressional district in the country. As I’ve noted before, Democrats — even those who did not serve eight years in a federal prison — can’t win in this district. Jindal and the Legislature drew the district map to make sure of that.
(I’m already hearing from Edwards’ disciples that their man can win if he can only point out Graves’ unethical and possibly illegal fundraising practices. So, you’re asking me to believe that a large group of conservative white Republicans, shocked over Graves’ alleged ethical lapses, will abruptly switch their votes to an 87-year-old Democrat who recently emerged from a federal prison, after serving eight years for racketeering and mail fraud?)
However, for those hopelessly optimistic Democratic souls who believed that Edwards ever had a chance, even against loony Lenar Whitney, allow me to demonstrate why the former governor will not be going back to Congress.
It’s a fairly simple equation.
First a bit of background: On Nov. 6, 53 percent of the district’s 486,358 voters went to the polls. Edwards got 77,852 of those votes, for 30 percent of the total, to Graves’ 70,706, or 27 percent. From my calculations, it appears Edwards received about 85 percent of the black vote (he underperformed Sen. Mary Landrieu in every majority black precinct I examined).
For purposes of our formula, we’ll assume that voter registration stays about the same (it will go up a bit, but we’ll base our calculations on the Nov. 1 numbers). We’ll also assume that turnout drops a bit, to 50 percent (it could be much lower, which wouldn’t help Edwards). We’ll also assume that blacks and whites turn out to vote at about the same rate (they did on Nov. 6).
With a 50 percent turnout (that ‘s 243,179 votes), Graves or Edwards will need at least 121,590 votes to win. That’s 50 percent of the turnout, plus one.
While Edwards didn’t get anything near Landrieu’s 94 percent of the black vote, let’s be generous and assume that he and Landrieu get the same votes on Dec. 6. Let’s give them both 95 percent of the black vote.
That’s 50,824 votes.
That means he only needs 70,766 more votes to win.
Another 20,711 voters classify their race as “other.”
If their turnout is 50 percent, then 10,355 of them will vote. Let’s be generous and give Edwards 60 percent of those votes. That’s an additional 6,213 votes.
He’s now only 64,553 votes away from victory!
But every one of those remaining votes must come from white voters. Assuming a 50 percent white turnout, there will be 179,358 white voters going to the polls on election day.
For Edwards to pull 64,500 votes from that pool would mean that he gets 36 percent of the white vote.
If that sounds plausible to you, consider for a moment that on election night Mary Landrieu received 18 percent of the white vote.
Consider that for her to win on Dec. 6, Landrieu must get at least 30 percent of the white vote, a percentage that most observers believe will be impossible for her to achieve.
Consider also that when she won re-election in 2008, Landrieu got 33 percent of the white vote.
That Edwin Edwards can outperform among whites, not only the 2012 Mary Landrieu, but the victorious 2008 version of Landrieu, is a fantasy. He’ll be lucky to get 20 percent of the white vote and probably won’t get that.
If you believe Edwin Edwards can win a congressional seat, you’ll need to show me how an 87-year-old convicted felon Democrat gets twice the white percentage on Dec. 6 that Landrieu received last Tuesday.
It just doesn’t add up.