Last Modified: Thursday, November 08, 2012 1:20 PM
There was little doubt that Louisiana voters would support Republican candidate Mitt Romney in Tuesday’s election, but one political analyst said Wednesday that more voters supported President Barack Obama in this year’s race than four years ago.
Forty-one percent of Louisiana voters supported Obama, while nearly 58 percent supported Romney, said Pearson Cross, head of the political science department at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
He said Romney’s statewide support was impressive, considering that former candidate Rick Santorum had more support in the Republican primary.
Henry Sirgo, political science professor at McNeese State University, said Romney did not cater to the Hispanic population, unlike other Republican presidential candidates before him. During a debate with Texas Gov. Rick Perry — who also ran unsuccessfully for the Republican ticket — Sirgo said Romney “displayed an at least relative lack of sympathy for Hispanics.”
Nationwide, Sirgo said he was impressed that voter turnout went up for the fifth consecutive time for a presidential election.
Diana Hamilton, chairman of the Calcasieu Parish Democratic Party, said that while diversity is “truly embraced at the national political level,” it still lacks in the Southern states.
“I know that Southern states and smaller towns are not at a place where they appreciate the value of diversity,” she said. “But that’s not unusual. It tends to lag behind the rest of the country.”
Bob Dewey, chairman of the Calcasieu Republican Executive Committee, said he thought Romney would fare better in the race.
“That was the surprise,” he said. “I thought we had a decent shot at it.”
The runoff between Republicans Charles Boustany and Jeff Landry for the 3rd Congressional District seat will be quite a different race than the primary, mainly because fewer voters will head to the polls Dec. 1, Cross said.
“With that being the case, it’s going to be which candidate can turn out their voters,” he said. “People are tired of races; the chances you’re going to get enthusiasm is pretty limited. It’s still going to be a contentious and spiteful debate. All bets are off in a runoff.”
Cross said negative advertising could turn even more voters away next month.
Sirgo said Boustany is the favored candidate, but that “it’s (his) race to lose.”
“(Voters) are in a mellow mood now,” he said. “When Republicans fight, it gets more intense. While Boustany hasn’t sent love letters, he hasn’t been as harsh as Landry.”
Cross said he believes Boustany would’ve won outright if Democrat Ron Richard hadn’t been in the race.
Hamilton said she was “very disappointed” that Richard did not receive more votes.
“That shows me there’s still a lot of work to do on educating people about issues that affect working families in this area,” she said.
Dewey said Richard should be credited for receiving as many votes as he did, since he had little name recognition. He said it will be interesting to see if Richard endorses anyone during the runoff.
Cross said he was surprised to see Republican Scott Angelle earn enough support to win the Public Service Commission post for District 2. Angelle received 57 percent of the vote, which Cross said was interesting because there were four other candidates in the race.
Cross said he believes Angelle will consider running for governor after Bobby Jindal’s term ends. He said the PSC is “often seen as a launching pad” for the governor’s office.
Both Cross and Sirgo said they were intrigued that Louisiana voters approved eight out of the nine constitutional amendments, most of which were approved by large majorities.
“There’s clearly an inclination to expand the constitution,” Cross said. “Apparently, we haven’t reached that point where people said, ‘Enough.’ ”
Calcasieu Clerk of Court Lynn Jones said the election went smoothly at every precinct and that there was “nothing out of the ordinary” with the voting machines. He said his office normally gets 10-30 calls from voters about possible issues with machines, but he said they have technicians available to fix any problems.
Jones said all of the voting information is backed up in case a machine malfunctions.
• Staff Writer Eric Cormier contributed to this story.