Historically, presidential races have come down to only a handful of toss-up states being the difference between victory and defeat -- the red/blue map has become fairly well-defined.
Enter John Bel Edwards (D) who won the governorship of Louisiana on November 21 by a fairly resounding margin, capturing 54 percent of the vote.
State governorships can give a glimpse into the 'at-large' intentions of a state, but this is hardly a sure thing in politics.
Louisiana has a long history, since WWII, of flipping allegiances between Democrats and Republicans for president -- currently in the longest Republican streak since George W. Bush in 2000.
If the gubernatorial race has any predictive powers, it is that the Republicans are going to have a harder race than originally anticipated.
With most analysts predicting 10 or fewer toss-up states, the electoral college map heavily favors the Democrats in 2016.
While Louisiana lost a critical electoral vote after Hurricane Katrina, due to population shifts, its 8 votes are critical in almost every winning combination for the Republicans. With 10 toss-ups, they have 72 winning combinations. However, without Louisiana, this drops to only 55.
Neither party likes to pour money into a state that they have held securely for 16 years, but Louisiana voters can likely expect a non-stop battle over the airwaves in 2016, and possibly more campaign stops than usual.
The ripple effect will likely be felt throughout the election map. If the parties (especially the Democrats) decide to make Louisiana a contested state, then there are really only 3 other toss-up states that matter to the Republicans -- Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Losing any two of them destroys any chances at 270 electoral votes for the Republicans if Louisiana falls.
Even with a clean-sweep of the largest prizes, the Republicans still come up 20 votes shy of 270.
In 2012, the candidates campaigned to the 10 swing states--Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin--and ignored the rest of the country. More than six-times the money was spent in Florida than in the 40 ignored states combined.
While this was bad, could it get even worse if only 4 states really mattered for the presidential race?
Image: La. Governor-elect John Bel Edwards (D)