Both sides attempt to get voters to the polls for the runoff ele - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Both sides attempt to get voters to the polls for the runoff election

(Source: WAFB) (Source: WAFB)
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

The Louisiana Secretary of State predicts a 40 percent voter turnout in Saturday's runoff election, which equals around one out of every seven registered voters who will decide the December 6 election.

Monday night's debate between the two Senate candidates sparked more than 5,600 tweets, at one point, reaching 122 tweets per minute.

For the last month, Louisiana has watched the back and forth between incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu and challenger Congressman Bill Cassidy in the US Senate race.

"Who is the real Bill Cassidy?" asked Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party.

"Her last ‘Hail Mary' is hoping our team simply doesn't vote," said Jason Dore, executive director of the Louisiana Republican Party.

Peterson and Dore addressed the media at Monday's Press Club. Each was given 15 minutes to speak about their party and respective candidate before taking questions. Political analyst Jim Engster said Monday night's debate likely would not sway anyone's decision, but it could push voters out to the polls.

"The question is whether Mary Landrieu or Bill Cassidy can say something tonight that will cause their camp to go to the polls in bigger numbers than the other side," Engster said.

Over the week of early voting, more than 220,000 people made their choice.

Engster said Landrieu needs votes because the early numbers are not in her favor. The percentage of Democrats who voted early fell dramatically from the primary.

"Every time in the runoff, the Democrats have built momentum and Mary has won in both those elections in 1996 and 2002," Peterson said.

However, Engster said in 1996, Landrieu ran at a time there was a popular Democratic president, Bill Clinton. In 2002, she ran at the same time as President George Bush. This time, he said, whether she likes it or not, she's been tied to President Barack Obama, who does not have a high rating in the state. He said it is something Cassidy continues to bring up.

In comparison, the Republican vote increased.

"While overall voter turnout fell, more Republicans voted early for the December election than they did in November," Dore said.

More than 2,700 Republicans chose to vote early in this runoff than in last month's primary.

"People of Louisiana are ready for change and they're ready to retire Mary Landrieu," Dore added.

Engster said Cassidy knows he has the lead right now and he's in lockdown. It's that dynamic Landrieu wants to change, Engster said, which is why we're hearing so much about his LSU records. Engster said Landrieu believes she has something there.

But, he added, the fact still remains that Landrieu knows she has a lot of ground to make up and a short time to make it happen.

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