So, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything on the ole’ WordPress Blog. With today being the run-off for one of the most exciting gubernatorial elections in Louisiana in 24 years, I figured I had to sit down and knock something out to get into the spirit of the day. While there has been a ton of ink spilled about the gubernatorial election as well as a lesser amount on the other statewide races, there hasn’t been all that much written about some of the smaller races, so I thought I would go ahead and do a little non-standard analysis on the race for State Representative in the district in which I reside, House District 69.
The runoff is between two conservative Republican candidates: Ryan Heck and Paula Davis. Heck is the current Councilperson for District 11 on the East Baton Rouge Parish Metropolitan Council, a district that includes a portion of State Representative District 69. Davis has previously held positions in state government, including as a former Deputy Commissioner of Insurance. So there’s the bona fides, but I don’t really care about that, I want to dig a bit.
Let’s talk about money. While it isn’t a 100% truism that spending more money wins the race, it certainly doesn’t hurt. More money spent means you have more mailers, more signs, more radio and TV spots, and more polls so you can tweak your game plan when you find out what’s working and what isn’t. To spend money, you have to make money and Heck definitely has raised more, including personally loaning his campaign a little over $100K, more than Davis has spent in total. Since we already have a primary election in the books, we can take a look at what kind of impact spending may have had so far.
As of the primary election on October 24th, Heck outspent Davis by a factor of 4.4x, spending $154K versus $35K. With the lop-sided spending, it’s a bit surprising that Davis actually took the most votes in the primary, 4,295 compared to Heck’s 4,213 (the final contestant, Democrat Mark Holden took 2,782 votes). Granted, it’s an extremely slim victory of 82 votes, but when you compare dollars spent per vote, it’s a drastic difference: $36.72 for Heck compared to $8.14 for Davis.
As far as the run-off, Heck has maintained the spending edge and 4x multiplier, at least through the reporting period which ended on November 1st. We won’t get the full picture until the election is over. With that said, Davis did have about $85K left in her campaign account compared to Heck’s $22K, so she seems better positioned to dump money on mailers and get out the vote efforts in the final weeks of the election, although supplementary campaign finance filing show continued fundraising for Heck.
If you recall, another factor in this race is that some of the voters are currently Heck’s constituents in Metro Council District 11. Incumbents generally have something akin to a home filed advantage in elections. Voters in the district know the name and, unless the candidate in question has angered the constituency in some way, a certain amount of goodwill generally exists. State House District 69, while quite a bit larger than Metro Council District 11, does have some overlap. So given a home field advantage, how did Heck do in those shared precincts? First, a note… due to council redistricting and the fact that Heck ran unopposed for the District 11 seat, I’m not entirely certain all of the split precincts are within District 69, but I opted to include them all. The LSU game is going even worse than anticipated and I’m a bit too curmudgeonly right now to care about accuracy.
Quick overview, Heck beat Davis in the vote count in only 4 of 15 precincts that he currently represents as the District 11 Metro Councilperson. That’s also after having spent 4.4x as much money as Davis up to the primary election. As they say, Houston, we may have a problem?
Still, it all remains to be seen what’s going to go down today. The difference in the total votes cast for each candidate was 82 votes in the primary. That’s a rounding error. Also remember that there were another 2,700 something votes cast for the Democrat that these two will be scrapping over. So far, Heck’s mailers have definitely been focused on convincing voters that he can work across the aisle. The last mailer I got from Davis was a pretty masterful negative ad giving 1o reasons why Heck shouldn’t get my vote. You know, as you do.
Happy Election Day Everybody!