What Is A Jungle Primary? Louisiana Has An Unusual Amount Of Congressional Candidates On The Ballot

While many voters are bemoaning their lack of options in this year's general election, Louisiana voters may find themselves with more candidates than they care to count when they head to the polls. While the entire nation is plugged into this year's presidential contest, a Senate race in Louisiana is also leaving voters across the country on the edge of their seat thanks largely to the state's unique primary system. Unlike other states, Louisiana has something called a jungle primary system.

Much of the drama expected to play out in Louisiana on Nov. 8 can be attributed to the state's jungle primary, otherwise known as a nonpartisan blanket primary. In a jungle primary, all candidates seeking the same office run against each other in one election rather than being whittled-down in internal political party contests.

This means that under a jungle primary, there are often multiple members of the same political party competing against each other and the number of candidates running for one Congressional seat can easily reach the double digits. For example, when voters head to the polls on Nov. 8 to fill Louisiana's open Senate seat, they'll find themselves faced with 24 candidates. To borrow a few words from Axl Rose: "You're in the jungle, baby!"

This year's lengthy list of Senate candidates in Louisiana has made a December runoff election almost inevitable. The top two candidates of the initial Nov. 8 vote head into a runoff election regardless of party affiliation if no one candidate manages to secure a majority of the vote in a jungle primary.

Yet it isn't just the number of people running that has made Louisiana's Senate race potentially divisive — one name on the ballot has also caused outrage, and rightfully so. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke is running for Senate in Louisiana. But concerned citizens both in and out of Louisiana will be relieved to find out that a survey from the University of New Orleans Survey Research Center reportedly found Duke is "extremely unpopular" with Louisiana voters.

Louisiana's jungle primary also has two GOP members of the House — Reps. Charles Boustany and John Fleming — playing colleagues in Congress and competitors on the campaign trail as they vie for the Senate seat that David Vitter's retirement has put up for grabs.

While a jungle primary system like that employed in Louisiana may not always make things especially easy for voters, it certainly makes things intense.