How the M-P race is shaping up in the final days

Monique Blanco Boulet and Josh Guillory at debate
Monique Blanco Boulet, who defeated incumbent Josh Guillory for Lafayette Parish's top job, has cleaned house at City-Parish Hall and is taking local government in a new direction. Photo by Travis Gauthier

▸ The gist: Seventeen thousand ballots have already been cast in Lafayette Parish ahead of this weekend’s vote for mayor-president, and tens of thousands more could be coming before polls close Saturday at 8 p.m.

▸ Early voter turnout for Saturday’s runoff in Lafayette Parish is level with that of the October primary, which ultimately saw a dismal 37.2% of registered voters cast ballots in the three-way race between Republicans that left incumbent M-P Josh Guillory in a runoff against Monique Blanco Boulet and ended Jan Swift’s campaign.

The early voting counts suggest overall turnout could be similar to October, but forecasters are less optimistic, with Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court Louis Perret expecting total turnout to be 20% or less.

▸ What isn’t similar: who’s showing up. The city of Lafayette, which narrowly preferred Blanco Boulet in October, is up 2.3% in early voting. Meanwhile, the rest of the parish is down 1%, leaving a 0.8% bump parishwide.

▸ The total increase is only about 100 early votes cast in person, with absentee ballots still being accepted until Friday, Nov. 17. That suggests the landscape hasn’t shifted in the M-P election since the October primary, and it leaves both candidates wanting ahead of Saturday’s results.

▸ Blanco Boulet leads in the latest poll, funded and released by KADN News 15 Wednesday. The challenger is pulling 40%, just ahead of Guillory at 37%, with 22% undecided, according to a sample of 400 registered voters.

▸ But Guillory leads fundraising between the two, raking in $687,000 so far this year compared to $642,000 for Blanco Boulet, who entered the race in February. Blanco Boulet had more cash on hand heading into the home stretch at $420,000 as of Monday compared to Guillory, who has $345,000 after spending $783,000 this year. Those figures include contributions as of Tuesday, but not expenditures after Oct. 29, which the campaigns aren’t yet required to report.

▸ Swifties will be key, and they aren’t staying home, based on a 5% increase in early voting for the handful of precincts that put Jan Swift on top last month. By comparison, precincts that put Blanco Boulet or Guillory in first place are up just 0.6% in early voting.

▸ Guillory likely needs to swing 40% of Swift voters to his side, while Blanco Boulet may have to nab 60% of them to win. Swift’s de facto endorsement of Blanco Boulet last week could put that 60/40 split out of reach for Guillory.

What to watch Saturday:

  • Northside turnout: Blanco Boulet dominated Lafayette’s Northside in October, and the City Council race featuring political mainstay Elroy Broussard could drive turnout there up in her favor.
  • Early indicators: Several precincts are primed to swing on the 60/40 split of Swifties that could determine Saturday’s elections, potentially giving early indications of the final results. Look for precincts 32, 41, 48, 75, 77, 92, 113 and 123 to follow the candidate bringing more Swifties to their side of that 60/40 split.
  • (Not) The Tigers: LSU is a 31-point favorite in its 7 p.m. game against Georgia State on Saturday. This election could surprise you. The Tigers almost certainly won’t.

Plus, live results: On Straight News Online’s website, where you can find our Election Guide and a map of Lafayette precincts with live vote totals as they are reported.