Why Louisiana’s 2020 presidential primary will be later than usual

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(WVLA/WGMB) — After caucuses or primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada so far, voters in Louisiana may be wondering when they’ll get to have their say in the Democratic presidential race.

Louisiana will have its primary later than normal, thanks to oddities in state law. Typically the state hosts primaries in early March, with municipal races required five weeks later. But because April 12 is Easter — and state rules prevent elections within three days of a holiday — Louisiana’s 2020 presidential primary will be April 4.

Louisiana’s later-than-usual presidential primary date could help a state often lost in the crowd of March primaries gain more national exposure this time around.

“I can easily see Biden or Bloomberg campaigning here,” Baton Rouge-based pollster John Couvillon. “Maybe Sanders, just because of his national strength.”

Polling site FiveThirtyEight shows U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont leading the Democratic pack in Louisiana. But moderates like former Vice President Joe Biden and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg are holding their ground. The Bloomberg team has hired multiple staffers from Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ reelection squad.

“Given that you have some top-notch Democratic talent who Bloomberg hired in Louisiana, they’re going to have better lay of the land than an out-of-state consultant would,” Couvillon said. “That gives Bloomberg a head start, although lots depend on what happens to Joe Biden.”

Biden has hired Rep. Cedric Richmond from New Orleans to co-chair his campaign.

“He does have some residual loyalty among black voters, who are a majority of the Louisiana primary electorate,” Couvillon said of Biden.

Louisiana’s Democratic primary will only be open to registered party members. Early voting will run from Saturday, Mar. 21 through Saturday, Mar. 28.

While the Louisiana primary may not decide the presidential race, its vote-by-vote breakdown could give Democratic Party leaders a better sense of who they’ll need to court before the Nov. 3 general election.

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