Today, this writer looks at the heart of Dixie and the states of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.
Shut off the lights early here because there is nothing to see. All six Republican incumbents will be returned to Congress as will the lone Democrat, Terri Sewell in the 9th. Likewise, Richard Shelby can mail in his reelection to the Senate. And Trump can count on their 11 electoral votes with a near 20% margin of victory over Hillary Clinton.
The same can be said for neighboring Mississippi where all three Republicans and one Democratic incumbent will win their House races. If the Democrats have any chance anywhere in the state, it would be in the First District where freshman incumbent Trent Kelly will face Democrat Jacob Owens. But, it would be such a long shot effort and the DCCC is not investing in this race.
As for the presidential race, there was some concern here a while back showing Trump with some vulnerabilities. In a poll taken in March, he led Clinton by only three points. Since then, he has been wiping the floor with her with nothing less than 50% of the vote (with one exception, but Trump ahead by 19 points nevertheless). Mississippi is friendly Trump turf and a lock for the GOP. One expects a double digit margin of victory somewhere near 15-18%.
Usually an open House seat would have the opposition eye’s popping with opportunity. Not so in Louisiana where there are two open GOP seats in the 3rd and the 4th Districts. Both incumbents, Charles Boustany and John Fleming respectively, are running for the open Senate seat held by Republican David Vitter. He, you may remember, failed to get 50% of the vote in a crowded jungle primary for the gubernatorial position and lost in the runoff to a Democratic opponent, John Bel Edwards. After that loss, he decided against reelection to the Senate.
Looking at the House races, both the 3rd and 4th are fairly safe Republican strongholds. However, here is the problem with the Louisiana jungle primary system where candidates run and the top two finishers advance to a runoff in December if no one garners 50%+1 of the vote on Election Day regardless of party. When Vitter ran for Governor, he had basically only Bel Edwards on the Democratic side, but several viable Republicans running against him costing him that 50% of the vote. In the head-to-head runoff, he handily lost.
We see these same dynamics in the open House races where seven Republicans and two Democrats are running in the Third and six Republicans and one Democrat is running in the 4th. Of the two, the GOP is more vulnerable in the 4th. If the lone Democrat sneaks through on Election Day at #2, watch this race in December. Democrats would love nothing more than to pick off a seat in deep red Louisiana.
In the Senate race, despite the presence of two sitting Congressmen in Boustany and Fleming, it is actually another Republican pretty consistently in the lead in polling- John Neely Kennedy- the current state treasurer and a Democratic candidate for the US Senate in 2004. There is also former Congressman John Cao and retired army general Rob Maness in the mix. The scary part is that a Democrat- Foster Campbell, a state public service commissioner- is consistently running second to Kennedy. And no candidate including Kennedy or Campbell is coming anywhere near the 50% threshold to avoid a runoff with so many candidates in the mix.
The bright spot is that in limited polling in a hypothetical Campbell-Kennedy runoff, Kennedy consistently comes out on top. If this was a Republican versus Republican in the runoff, Kennedy would likewise win. However, lest we forget, Louisiana elected a Democratic governor recently and just recently unseated another Democrat- Mary Landrieu- in a Senate race.
As far as the presidential race goes, Trump will win this state and their 8 electoral votes by about a 14-17 margin.
After this article, the electoral vote count now stands at Clinton 59 to Trump 47. The Senate remains 54-46 in favor of the GOP with the disclaimer to revisit this race after Election Day (but calling it for the GOP now), with no changes in the House and the GOP maintaining their 245-190 advantage.
Tomorrow: America’s breadbasket- Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas.