Louisiana gears up for 2016 presidential primary election

Nicholas Morea

With the presidential race heating up, Louisiana is next on the campaign trail for both Republicans and Democrats.

On March 5, Louisiana voters registered for a specific party will be able to cast their vote in the Louisiana primaries.

According to a WWL report, early voting shows that voting is nearly double the 2012 presidential primary and almost four times that
of 2008.

Sean Cain, associate professor of political science at Loyola, said he uses the 2012 election to gauge what may occur in the 2016 race.

“Four years ago, Mitt Romney was the front runner, but Republican voters, especially religious conservatives, were seeking an alternative. Rick Santorum filled that role, and he won every parish except Orleans Parish,” Cain said.

Because religion plays a large role on how Louisiana voters cast their ballots, Roger Villere, Jr., Louisiana Republican Party chairman, said that it may be beneficial for Cruz.

“While Trump is the front runner, there’s a large evangelical community in Lafayette that may help Cruz out,” Villere said.

For the Democratic party, Cain said while both candidates have a solid following in Louisiana, Hillary Clinton has the lead.

“On the Democratic side, it’s safe to say that Hillary Clinton has a clear lead, even without much polling,” Cain said. “She has strong support among African-American voters, who are a sizable share of the Democratic electorate, and Bernie Sanders’ strength among young voters in New Hampshire and Iowa may not be matched here.”

Even though Villere said that the Republican candidates are close, there is a reason why Trump has the lead.

“Trump, Cruz and Rubio are all very close, I think there’s a huge void of leadership nationally and Trump has filled that void with his ideas,” Villere said. “There’s always opportunity for Cruz and Rubio, but they need to focus on getting their message out.”

According to Cain, Louisiana’s closed primaries can greatly affect both Donald Trump and
Bernie Sanders.

“Independent voters have been important to Trump’s victories so far and to Sanders’ relative success against Clinton,” Cain said. “Both are outsider candidates who don’t fit the mold of a party politician, but without independent voters, they are at a disadvantage.”

Ed Chervenak, University of New Orleans political science professor and WDSU political contributor, said that Louisianians who can vote in the closed primary must take the opportunity to do so.

“Voting is essential in the primaries. The primaries decide who the candidates are in the national election. Only people who are registered under Republican or Democratic can vote,” Chervenak said.

The nearest polling location for those living on or near Loyola’s campus will be at Holy Name of
Jesus School.