Democrat Paul Carmouche Wednesday conceded his race for a seat in Congress to physician John Fleming in Louisiana's 4th congressional district.
Louisianans went to the polls Saturday to choose between Carmouche, the former Caddo Parrish district attorney, and Fleming. Unofficial results show Fleming leading Carmouche by less than 400 votes.
"Of more than 92,000 votes cast throughout the 13 parishes of this district, it appears that our campaign has fallen slightly short," Carmouche said. "I will not ask for a recount of any of the paper ballots, and I offer my warmest congratulations to Dr. Fleming."
A tough, tough loss - the sub-0.4% margin of victory makes this one of the closest races of 2008. With a Republican incumbent, even a freshman, this seat will probably be very challenging for Democrats to contest in 2010.
This also now means that the only outstanding House race is VA-05, where Rep. Virgile Goode, trailing by 745 votes, has asked for a recount. The results of the recount are expected next week, but I'd be pretty shocked if the outcome changes.
Fleming received 48 percent of the vote to 47.7 percent for Carmouche, according to complete but unofficial returns. Fleming led by 356 votes out of more than 92,000 cast. Two independent candidates got the rest of the votes.
Fleming declared victory but Carmouche did not concede defeat.
Carmouche said he wants to see what happens when voting machines are rechecked on Tuesday. He said he also wanted to make sure that all provisional ballots -- paper ballots cast when there is a problem at a polling place -- have been counted.
Good for Carmouche. Right now we don't know how many provisionals were even cast, and it's conceivable there might be enough to make a difference here. Also note that the AP hasn't called the race - they haven't put that little red check-mark next to Fleming's name.
Small though it may sound, 0.38% is a fairly tough margin to overcome. But I'm glad to see the Dems making sure every vote gets counted.
11:54PM (David): In the end, Cao wins 50-47.
11:22PM (David): So LA-02 is D+28 (old PVI). There is no district that is as red as this one is blue - UT-03 tops out at R+26. This reminds me of IL-05 in 1994 (1990s PVI: D+11) - corrupt Dan Rostenkowski got beaten by the unknown Michael Flanagan, who got soundly thumped by Rod Blagojevich two years later. Hopefully whoever beats Cao in 2010 will be a bigger upgrade over Jefferson than Blago was over Rosto.
11:15PM: The AP calls it for Cao! LOL!
11:04PM: Damn, looks like we fell short. Fleming leads by 350 votes with 100% of precincts reporting.
11:02PM: This thread is getting stuffy -- let's continue this conversation over here.
10:54PM: The last few Caddo precincts are now in, and have cut Carmouche's lead down to a bit over 1800 votes. This looks like it'll be very, very close.
10:46PM (David): So 90% of the precincts have reported in Caddo, while about half have in Bossier. Bossier is going 58-36 for Fleming right now. If that margin holds, we should win. If it gets redder, we'll probably lose.
10:45PM: Eight more precincts from Caddo report, and Carmouche is now up by 2200 votes.
10:38PM (David): Check this out: In LA-02, Republican Anh Cao is leading 53-43 right now. Wild!
10:35PM: It's all Bossier and Caddo now. 61 precincts left -- 37 from Bossier and 24 from Caddo. Carmouche currently leads by about 1850 votes.
10:26PM: 535 precincts in, and Carmouche leads by 3300 votes. However, a great deal of the outstanding vote is in Bossier Parish, which will hurt us. Looks like this could go down to the wire...
10:12PM: 403 precincts in now, and Carmouche leads by under 1900 votes, based on a strong romping in the early returns from Shreveport. Note that Obama just barely edged McCain here, while Carmouche so far has racked up a 2-to-1 lead in Caddo Parish.
10:02PM: Another Caddo batch in, which has completely offset Fleming's gains from Beauregard and Grant -- with 377 precincts reporting, Carmouche is back up by 1700 votes or so. Caddo has under two-thirds of its vote left to report.
9:56PM: Finally, we're getting some numbers from the conservative Bossier Parish -- and it's helped cut down Carmouche's lead down to 430 votes with 277 precincts reporting. Still looking pretty good overall, though.
9:51PM: A blast of votes in from Caddo and Bienville, and now Carmouche is ahead by 2400 votes with 229 precincts reporting.
9:46PM: 141 precincts in, and Fleming is now back up by about 165 votes. So far, though, Carmouche is winning a few counties that Obama lost (Bienville, DeSoto, Grant, Natchitoches, Red River, and Webster), and a lot of votes are left to count in Caddo. I haven't run any numbers, but so far I'd say that this is looking much better than I anticipated.
9:42PM: 102 precincts in, and Carmouche leads by 485 votes.
9:39PM: 83 precincts in, and Team Blue now leads by 450 votes. We're starting to see some more votes coming in from Caddo (Shreveport, Carmouche's base).
9:35PM: 64 precincts in (exactly 10%), and Carmouche now leads by about 340 votes.
9:32PM: Geaux 'Mouche! Fleming leads by just 37 votes with 50 precincts reporting.
9:29PM: In the comments, conspiracy posts some good county baselines. Basically, Obama only won Caddo here in November. So far, the 'Mouche is winning a few more counties, and running closer elsewhere. 49-48 for Fleming now.
9:25PM: 19 precincts reporting, and it's 50-48 Fleming.
9:24PM: 10 precincts in now, and Fleming is up by 52-46.
9:11PM: With just 5 of 640 precincts reporting, Fleming leads by 59-39.
With election day nearing on December 6th Obama has decided to cut a radio Ad for Carmouche.
This is Barack Obama.
Together we made history, but there is still one more important election in Louisiana on Saturday, December 6th.
Democrat Paul Carmouche is running for Congress.
To change America and to get Louisiana's economy back on track - I need leaders like Paul Carmouche working with me in Washington. Let me tell you about Paul Carmouche. Paul is an effective and fair district attorney...who stood up for the victims of violent crime...Paul supports tax relief for the middle class and will work with me to create jobs and get Louisiana's economy moving.
Paul Carmouche is the kind of leader we need in Washington...to make a difference for the people of Northwest Louisiana.
On Saturday, December 6th please support Democrat Paul Carmouche.
The Kitchens Group (11/18-19, likely voters, 11/6-7 in parens):
Paul Carmouche (D): 48 (45)
John Fleming (R): 37 (35)
Undecided: 13 (16)
That's a fair spot better than the last two polls we've seen of this race. Interestingly, Kitchens pegs the African-American vote at a conservative 22% (this district is 33% black), meaning they estimate that the 'Mouche is doing much better with whites than either SUSA or Public Opinion Strategies say he is. This one will probably go down to the wire.
The full polling memo and details are available below the fold.
After the Paul Carmouche campaign released a poll last week showing the Caddo Parish DA leading Republican John Fleming by 10 points in this open seat race, two new polls have been released tonight showing Fleming with a slight lead. Let's check 'em out.
SurveyUSA for Roll Call (11/17-18, likely voters):
Paul Carmouche (D): 45
John Fleming (R): 47
Paul Carmouche (D): 42
John Fleming (R): 43
There are a lot of unknowns about turnout here, particularly concerning the African-American turnout for this December 6th election. While the district is 33% black, SUSA pegs the black vote at 27% for this special election, and the POS poll split the difference at 30%. The Kitchens Group poll for Carmouche, interestingly, conservatively projected the black turnout to be 24%.
The DCCC is investing considerably in this race, having spent $448,000 on Carmouche's behalf as of this afternoon, while the NRCC has dropped $279,000, most of which has been spent on media buys. However, the DCCC is also spending cash on field operations, which is something they employed successfully in other special elections this year (IN-07, LA-06, and MS-01). Just to give you a sense of the track record of the DCCC's field program, they made significant independent expenditures for boots on the ground in seven races this fall (AL-02, AL-05, CT-04, LA-06, MD-01, MS-01 and NC-08) and won six of them. Of course, the one race of that batch that we did happen to lose was also in Louisiana, but other factors contributed to Don Cazayoux's demise there that won't be in play against Carmouche.
Vice President Dick Cheney will be guest of honor Friday at a fundraiser for Dr. John Fleming, Republican hopeful for the 4th Congressional District seat now held by Shreveporter Jim McCrery, a fellow political pachyderm who chose not to run for re-election.
The event will be at 10 a.m. at a private residence in Shreveport and is by invitation only, said Fleming, who won the Republican stake in the congressional race in a hard-fought Nov. 4 runoff against fellow Republican and Shreveport businessman Chris Gorman.
Democrat Paul Carmouche isn't taking this one sitting down -- in fact, he's dishing out some duckies of his own (via press release):
John Fleming has invited guests to pay $10,000 for their picture with Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday. In honor of his visit, Paul Carmouche's Congressional campaign has invited the public to attend "Coffee with Carmouche" where anyone can come and enjoy coffee and doughnuts with Paul and talk about their issues of concern. The first 25 people through the door will receive a rubber duck, to symbolize the Vice President's status as a lame duck. [...]
"This campaign is about the people, not the powerful," Carmouche said. "I will always keep an open door in Congress, and listen to the concerns and needs of my constituents."
"In tough economic times, it is ironic that Dr. Fleming would host a $10,000 a person fundraiser with the very symbol of the failed policies of the past eight years," Carmouche campaign spokesmen Bert Kaufman said. "Mr. Cheney's visit underscores just how out of touch and risky Dr. Fleming is for the voters of the 4th Congressional District."
Geaux 'Mouche! We all know how well-received Darth Cheney was in his last appearance in a Southern special election.
Paul Carmouche (D): 43
John Fleming (R): 48
Check out that margin of error -- it's a monstrous 8.3 points. Now, the pollster claims that the MoE is lower (6%, according to Roll Call), but the poll's sample size is a minuscule 140, making a 6% MoE mathematically impossible. (Update: In the comments, MichiganLiberal notes that it would be possible to have an MoE that low for this poll, but doing so would require using a significantly lower confidence interval than what is normally used by reputable pollsters. Either way, it's a junky poll.)
Republicans are hyping this poll in response to a Kitchens Group survey for Carmouche that showed Dems in the lead by 10 points. If this is their best evidence of Fleming's strength, they have a lot to feel embarrassed about.
Meanwhile, Roll Call gives us a taste of the air war in the 4th:
While the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has released an ad attacking Fleming's Social Security plan and his support for a national sales tax, the National Republican Congressional Committee is going after Carmouche's record as a district attorney.
The NRCC's attacks are focused on the case of John Pilinski Jr., who Republicans say was allowed to go free after numerous arrests and convictions because Carmouche failed to prosecute him under Louisiana's habitual offender law.
"Paul Carmouche, soft on crime, wrong for us," the NRCC ad states.
The Pilinski stuff reeks of typical of out of context Republican BS, but it remains to be seen whether or not it'll stick. The Carmouche campaign is pretty livid over this one.