Polling on the Louisiana governor’s race released in recent weeks told us one thing for certain.
That is the race is locked up and no candidate is showing any signs of pulling away from the pack including Sen. David Vitter, who should be in cruise control en route to succeeding Gov. Bobby Jindal. After all, Vitter’s a sitting U.S. senator who’s been elected statewide two times in 11 years.
Yet, three polls that reared their heads over the past week that also are receiving a great deal of media attention raised eyebrows in some corners concerning their validity while two of them even suggested Rep. John Bel Edwards, the lone significant Democrat in the race, would defeat Vitter in a November run-off. Stranger things have happened; I just can’t recall any.
It was a Democrat polling firm out of North Carolina by the name of PPP that initiated the narrative Vitter would be defeated by Edwards in November, assuming Vitter survives an onslaught of negative advertising between now and the primary election on Oct. 24. That’s a big if, for it’s obvious a majority of the voters may still have a problem with Vitter’s past indiscretions in his personal life. Polling tells us that, evidenced by Vitter’s inability to put this race to bed in light of his overwhelming advantage on the fundraising and organizational fronts.
Before PPP’s poll could be put through the wringer, The Advocate newspapers in Baton Rouge and New Orleans released a poll that the papers commissioned in conjunction with WWL-TV in the Big Easy. Clarus Research Group in Washington, D.C. conducted the poll whose findings gee-hawed with other polling released to the public in the not-too-distant past — that being Vitter and Edwards out front with a little more then 20 percent of the vote each while Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne hovered in the mid teens. The Clarus poll even projected that Vitter could not defeat any of the other major candidates under a run-off scenario.
Finally, there’s the Cygnal poll, whose findings were forwarded to yours truly Monday night. It was flawed to say the least.
Allow me to explain.
No. 1, the Cygnal survey was too white, meaning not enough black voters were polled. Just 19 percent of the respondents in the Cygnal survey were black, which is a far cry from the 26 percent to 28 percent of the vote that blacks will account for in the primary election in a little over three weeks.
No. 2, the Cygnal poll was too Republican. It projected some 40 percent of the voters are Republican, which makes no sense since on election day no more than 30 percent of the voters who bother to vote will be Republicans.
And No. 3 and this is an important one, some 80 percent of the respondents in the Cygnal poll were contacted by via landline telephones. That’s a big no-no in polling in Louisiana these days since some 38 percent of Louisiana’s likely voters are cellular telephone users only.
Still, the Cygnal poll claimed Vitter was leading the race with 23 percent of the vote while Edwards ran a close second with 20 percent. Dardenne was third while Angelle was fourth.
Bear in mind that any polling released to the general public this close to the election was done for one reason only — influence the electorate. It’s entirely likely as well that any polling released to the general public was manipulated to produce a particular finding.
In other words, ignore every poll you see over the next three weeks if it comes to your doorstep courtesy of a candidate or the media. You’re being sold a bill of goods.
Anyone who remotely has any experience in politics knows that only the candidates know for sure how well they’re doing in the polls, and they aren’t telling anyone unless the news is good and they’re trying to shake more money out of their donors.
Sam Hanna is a state political writer.