about. John Bell Edwards defeated Republican Eddie Rispone by 51% to 49% in Saturday's runoff election. That came after Edwards failed to win a majority last month, in which Republican candidates, in combination, actually defeated Democrats by a 52% to 47% margin.
Saturday's Democrat victory is yet another demonstration of Trump's boundaries of attractiveness and the importance of candidate quality, even in our deeply polarized era.
Edwards appeared with 90% of the vote in Orleans Township and 66% of the vote in Baton Rouge's partly urban and suburban East. They are home to the two most populated cities (New Orleans and Baton Rouge) in the state. Trump lost both in 201
6. However, Democrat Hillary Clinton won only Orleans with 81% and East Baton Rouge with 52%. 90% of Edwards in Orleans is particularly impressive, considering that he picked up 87% of it in 2015 when he first won nationwide elections with 56% of the vote.
The movement of suburban areas away from Republicans is most clearly seen in the Jefferson Parish, on the Orleans border. Edwards won it with 57% of the vote on Saturday. That was impressive. Clinton won only 41% of the vote there in 2016. Hell, Edwards took a 51% bare majority in his 2015 victory.
Why Edwards Won
The result of Louisiana was not just about persuasion – changing the Republican vote to a Democratic one. Changes in turnout may have made the difference between Edwards not reaching 50% in the primary and dimming the run-off. In particular, the increase in black turnout. In the heavily populated African-American parish, Caddo, East Baton Rouge and Orleans, turnout was up about 15% to 30% compared to last month's Louisiana "primary jungle" – in which all candidates, regardless of party affiliation , ran against each other and the first two were advanced, as no candidate achieved a majority.
Counties in the rest of the state saw a smaller increase in turnout.
This trend in early voting data suggests that African-Americans will make up more of the electorate in the run-off than in the October jungle championship.
Higher black turnout was reminiscent of what happened in 2017 in the Alabama Senate Special Election. African-American high turnout has helped Democrat Doug Jones be outnumbered in this election. The same can be said of Edwards in Louisiana.
If Democrats can think of a way to mobilize black voters (who don't like Trump a lot) in 2020 the way they didn't in 2016, that could help them in key battlegrounds like Florida, North Carolina and Michigan. Black voter mobilization is a problem for some Democrats during the Trump era.
One of the keys to becoming a black voter is to not only rely on Trump as a foil. The fact is, Edwards won in Louisiana not because of Trump, but because Edwards was a popular governor with a 50% approval rating north. He had a strong appeal in particular to the black community.
What Edwards demonstrated on Saturday is that Trump is not all about the election. Competitions across the country may show national trends, but applicants still matter. This is what we saw in Kentucky. Democrat Andy Bechere was able to win the Kentucky governor's mansion, as Republican Gov. Matt Bevin had a 50% approval rating south.
As 2020 progresses, Democrats need to find suitable candidates to take advantage of their back queues. If they do, they will probably have a good 2020. If they don't, we may have a repeat of 2016, when Trump and the Republicans as a whole won the "less than two evils" contest.