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La. Has Become Redder Since Sen. Mary Landrieu Took Office


It's the final day of campaigning before Election Day, or the haze in the barn as they say down south. And that's where our coverage will start this hour. We'll go first to the state of Louisiana and then hear about other key races from around the country that could determine control of the Senate.

Polls show Republicans have the edge, and Democrats are well aware of that, especially in Louisiana. As NPR's Debbie Elliott reports, three-term Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu is struggling to hang onto her seat.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, BYLINE: Louisiana is much more Republican than when Mary Landrieu was first elected in 1996. Now she's the only major statewide Democratic office holder in a state where Mitt Romney topped President Obama by 17 percentage points last election. Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy is trying to tap that sentiment on the campaign trail.

CONGRESSMAN BILL CASSIDY: I represent Louisiana. Senator Landrieu represents Barack Obama.

ELLIOTT: Cassidy, a doctor from Baton Rouge, greeted voters and tasted gumbo at the Bayou Church cook-off in Lafayette yesterday.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You don't even have to give us a brochure. We're voting for you.

CASSIDY: Man, you all got a dark roux here.

ELLIOTT: Cassidy and a Tea Party candidate, Rob Maness, are the top Republicans challenging Landrieu in Louisiana's open primary. The crowded field makes a December runoff likely. Polls show that would pit Cassidy and Landrieu.

In her final pitch, Landrieu is targeting women with rallies like Saturday's Geaux Vote event in New Orleans. That's G, E, A, U, X - Cajun for go. A brass band primed the crowd as they awaited former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, here to get out the vote for her former Senate colleague.


HILLARY CLINTON: It all comes down to who shows up, doesn't it? You do not want to wake up the day after the election and wish you had done more.

ELLIOTT: Afterward, Deborah Mose of Marksville said Louisiana voters would be crazy to throw out a strong senator.

DEBORAH MOSE: I'm with Mary.

ELLIOTT: But Mose admits she's a little worried about whether traditional Democratic voters will show up tomorrow.

MOSE: I actually tell my kinfolks and people I know, black people died to vote. Get out and vote. We don't have any excuses.

ELLIOTT: Mary Landrieu's future could depend on whether or not they turn out. Debbie Elliott, NPR News, New Orleans. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR National Correspondent Debbie Elliott can be heard telling stories from her native South. She covers the latest news and politics, and is attuned to the region's rich culture and history.

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