Last night, Louisiana State Representative John Bel Edwards became the first Democrat to win a statewide election in the deep south since 2008 when he beat U.S. Senator David Vitter for Louisiana’s governor. Edwards, described by some as a social conservative, will be succeeding the failed administration of now failed presidential candidate Piyush “Bobby” Jindal.
Because of this Democratic gain, as many as 290,000 people in Louisiana may get healthcare coverage. Edwards, a proponent of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, wrote on his campaign website that, “Accepting Medicaid expansion would provide a much-needed spark of life to our state’s healthcare system, which has suffered due to an ever-expanding number of uninsured patients.”
Voter turnout in this gubernatorial election was 40 percent. Higher than the midterm elections, and certainly higher than Kentucky’s gubernatorial election earlier this month, in which an anti-Medicaid expansion Republican took the Governor’s mansion from a Democrat. Because of that, as many as 400,000 Kentuckians face losing their healthcare. Voter turnout for that election was 30 percent.
This is what happens when Democrats get out and vote. As much as a 10 percent rise in voter turnout could have a drastic effect in an election (and that drastic effect usually benefits the Democrats).
Of course there were other factors that contributed to Edwards’ win – Vitter was bogged down by his prostitution scandal, Bobby Jindal is largely unpopular, and large financial woes plague the state. But there is no denial that the people of Louisiana – a deeply conservative state – wanted something and someone different. Democratic candidates offer that something different. That’s why most Democrats are progressive. New solutions to old problems. Louisiana’s healthcare system is broken, so the voters elected a candidate committed to fixing it with new incentives, ideas and laws.
So let’s recap what we know from 2015: when Democrats didn’t show up in Kentucky, Democrats lost and 400,000 people will probably lose their healthcare. When Democrats showed up in Louisiana, a Democrat won and now 290,000 people will get healthcare.
This is why voting matters. Cynicism and laziness is what the Republicans are banking on to win in 2016. If Democrats can succeed Bobby Jindal, arguably the most insane of the GOP presidential lot, then a Democrat can succeed the successful and progressive President Obama.
Featured image via John Bel Edwards campaign website