Oct 16, 2023 - Politics

Low voter turnout fueled Landry's primary win

Photo illustration of Louisiana Governor-elect Jeff Landry with lines radiating from him.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Tom Wiliams/Getty Images

Just more than a third of Louisiana's registered voters decided in Saturday's primary who will be its next governor.

Why it matters: Despite having more registered voters than Republicans in the state, Democrats failed to get enough support behind their lone candidate in the gubernatorial race, and some politicos say a party reorganization could be on the way.

Driving the news: Attorney General Jeff Landry was elected governor with 51.56% of the vote.

  • In the state's "jungle primary," voters can select candidates regardless of party affiliation, and anyone who secures more than 50% of the vote is declared winner without a runoff.
  • Shawn Wilson, the lone Democrat in the crowded race, secured just 25.93% of the vote.

Zoom in: Overall, voter turnout was the lowest it's been for any gubernatorial primary in years, driven by a "dramatic" drop in Democratic and Black voter strongholds, like New Orleans and East Baton Rouge, the Louisiana Illuminator reports.

By the numbers: In Orleans Parish, just more than 70% of voters chose Wilson, but only 27% of voters turned out.

  • That's 30% lower than in 2019, when Gov. John Bel Edwards was re-elected, according to NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune.
  • Republicans also vastly outspent Democrats in the election, as the paper's Sam Karlin pointed out. In September, Democrats spent $28,000 to the Republicans' $1.2 million.

What they're saying: No one saw this coming. Though one poll indicated Landry could win outright, most pundits anticipated a runoff.

  • The "Louisiana Democratic Party, in failing to even put a Democrat in the runoff, is no longer a legitimate opposition party," said Robert Collins, a political analyst and Dillard University professor, in a social media post. "To regain a two-party system, it will need to be burned to the ground, and rebuilt from scratch."

What we're watching: Louisiana's Democratic party chair Katie Bernhardt's future in the position appears unsteady after this election.

Editors note: This story was corrected to say voter turnout in Orleans Parish was lower than in 2019 when Gov. John Bel Edwards was re-elected, not Bobby Jindal.

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