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Fax Net: Senate Race is a Dead Heat

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lou BurnettA new poll on the Louisiana U.S. Senate race by Public Policy Polling (PPP) reveals that as few as six percent of voters could determine the outcome.

In a hypothetical runoff between incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, it was a 47-47 percent tie with 6 percent undecided.

PPP surveyed 664 registered voters from June 26-June 29. Of the interviews, 80 percent were conducted over the phone and 20 percent over the Internet to reach voters who do not have land lines. The margin of error is +/- 3.8 percent.
In the primary scenario, Landrieu leads Cassidy by 17 percentage points, 44-27 percent. Two other Republican candidates were in single digits. Retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness came in with 8 percent, and state Rep. Paul Hollis had 5 percent. Undecided was 17 percent.

Interestingly, all of the candidates have negative favorability ratings with those surveyed. For Landrieu, 42 percent approve of the job she is doing while 52 percent disapprove.

Cassidy’s favorable rating was only 28 percent, while 36 percent view him unfavorably. Maness was viewed favorably by only 14 percent and unfavorably by 23 percent. Hollis had a 12 percent favorability rating and 23 percent unfavorable.
The three Republican candidates still face a situation where many voters do not know who they are. While only 6 percent didn’t have an opinion about Landrieu, 36 percent weren’t sure about Cassidy, 65 percent about Maness, and 64 percent about Hollis.

Republicans will likely spin those findings in their favor, saying that the three GOP candidates have room to grow, while the opinions about Landrieu are pretty much cast in stone after serving three terms.

But one needs to remember that the election is still about four months away and voters can be fickle fingers of fate. Much can happen between now and November 4, the primary date. The runoff, if needed, will be on December 6.

But to Landrieu’s credit, as the last statewide elected Democrat, she seems to be holding her own in what has become a dark-red Pelican State. As with every election, voter turnout will be the key to success, especially among black voters for Landrieu.

Oh, about the governor’s race….

Yes, the Louisiana governor’s race is not until 2015, but it’s never too early to talk about it. So, PPP used its poll to see how that race is shaping up.

What PPP did was match up Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter, who is considered the frontrunner in the 2015 governor’s race, with other declared and potential candidates.

And guess who would run the best race against Vitter? Yep, another Landrieu – Democratic New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the brother of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.

One can easily get the impression that the two Landrieus are the remaining hopes for the Louisiana Democratic Party, which has been in decline in recent years.

In a hypothetical runoff, Vitter leads Landrieu 48-44 percent with 8 percent undecided. The 48 percent Vitter received matches his current job approval rating in the U.S. Senate with those surveyed. His job disapproval rating was 35 percent with 17 percent unsure.

If Landrieu does not run, here is how Vitter fares against other potential runoff opponents. He leads Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who says he is running, 40-34 percent with 26 percent undecided.
Vitter, in a runoff with Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards, who says he is running, leads 52- 30 percent with 18 percent undecided.

Landrieu, who served as Lt. Governor before becoming mayor of the Big Easy and is now in his second term, continues to be viewed favorably by many voters. He matches Vitter with a 48 percent favorability rating, and had an unfavorable rating of only 30 percent, compared to Vitter’s 35 percent.

Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of national and local politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter.