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Louisiana Senate Runoff: Landrieu Appears Doomed

A few months ago, Saturday, Dec. 6 loomed large on the political calendar. Might control of the Senate come down to a runoff in Louisiana between Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R)?


With just a few days left to go in the campaign, the race is barely an afterthought: Republicans have already won the Senate, and there’s simply no indication that Landrieu has much, if any, chance of winning.

Before Thanksgiving, we mentioned some of the reasons she was in such bad shape:

The results of the Nov. 4 midterm confirmed that not only was 2014 a very Republican year, but also that red state Democrats would pay a disproportionate political price in this polarized era. Coming into the election, Democrats were defending seven Senate seats in states won by Mitt Romney in 2012, and Republicans won the six that were decided on Election Night. Only Landrieu remains. Polling has been scarce, but what surveys we do have show Cassidy comfortably ahead. We also have what politicians routinely call “the only poll that matters,” the actual results on Election Night: 55.7% of all the votes went to Cassidy and other Republican candidates, while Landrieu and other Democrats won 43.4% (a Libertarian got the remaining 0.9 points worth of votes). That’s a rather deep hole for Landrieu.

Outside Democratic groups have abandoned Landrieu, and Republican forces have almost total command of the airwaves. The GOP seems so confident that the National Republican Senatorial Committee recently canceled some of its television ads.

Crystal Ball Senior Columnist Alan Abramowitz of Emory University recently created a forecast for the Louisiana runoff, using just two variables — a state’s 2012 presidential vote and whether an incumbent is running — to explain the results in this year’s Senate races. The forecast suggests that Landrieu will lose by 11 points.

None of that has changed. The outside Democratic groups have stayed out, and the early voting numbers from Louisiana suggest that the electorate for the runoff will be smaller and more Republican than the one that showed up on Election Day.

It’s rare for us to completely write off an incumbent. In fact, we only did so in one race this cycle, when we moved Gov. Tom Corbett’s (R) reelection bid in Pennsylvania to Safe Democratic a month before the election. Sure enough, Corbett lost by nearly 10 points.

Landrieu is basically in the same boat, and it would be an absolute shock if she won. So we’re moving the Louisiana Senate runoff from Likely Republican to Safe Republican.

Table 1: Crystal Ball Senate ratings change