Shocking Senate poll

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A new poll on the U.S. Senate race released last week by Southern Media and Opinion Research (SMOR) of Baton Rouge has sent shock waves through the campaigns of some candidates.

Keep this in mind. Bernie Pinsonat of SMOR says the poll was paid for my business people, lobbyists, and others and that no campaigns were involved. So the poll is considered an independent one.

The big news out of the poll conducted between September 15-17 is that Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy’s double-digit lead over the 24-candidate field he had in previous polls has evaporated.

Other highlights: In second place for the first time is another Republican – U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany. And among the two major Democrat candidates, Caroline Fayard has taken the lead over Foster Campbell.

The results also conclude that this is now a five-person race as it heads into the final six weeks. Here are the results:

State Treasurer John Kennedy (R) – 16.9%.
U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany (R) –. 15.2%.
Attorney Caroline Fayard (D) – 11.4%.
PSC Foster Campbell (D) – 9.2%.
U.S. Rep. John Fleming (R) – 8.3%.
Retired Lt. Col. Rob Maness (R) – 3.3%.
David Duke (R) – 3.1%.

A whopping 26% are still undecided, which means these numbers could change as the November 8 election day nears.

To see how the poll numbers have changed, here is the average of four previous polls:
John Kennedy (R) 28%, Foster Campbell (D) 14.5%, Charles Boustany (R) 12%, Caroline Fayard (D) 10.5%, John Fleming (R) 6.5%, Rob Maness (R) 4%.

Boustany and Fleming have been running TV ads in some markets, which could account for their rise in the polls. Most other candidates have not yet begun their TV advertising blitz.

Remaining an unknown factor in the race are the revelations in the recently published book “Murder in the Bayou,” which alleges that Boustany used the services of prostitutes at a motel in Jennings run by his field representative Martin Guillory.

Pinsonat said that he didn’t think the news of the allegations had circulated enough to affect his poll. But it’s a given that some of the candidates will try to keep those flames burning in hopes they will negatively impact Boustany.

In fact, Boustany, who has vehemently denied the allegations, has accused Kennedy of doing just that, which could make future forums very interesting.

Most political analysts still predict the runoff will be between a Republican and a Democrat. If that scenario becomes a reality, here’s what the polls found out at this point in time:

*43% of respondents said they would vote for the Republican candidate, while 33% chose the Democratic candidate, but 24% are undecided.
*70% of black voters would support the Democrat, but 28% said they are undecided.
*White Democrats would vote for the Democrat by a margin of 42-29%, but 29% are still undecided.
*Independent voters would favor the Republican candidate 40-25%, but 36% are undecided.

John Bel riding high
One would be hard-pressed to remember a governor who has had a tougher first year in office than Democrat John Bel Edwards. He has dealt with a budget crisis, shootings and racial tension, and unprecedented flooding throughout the state to mention just a few of the state’s problems.

Either voters have sympathy for him or they think he has handled the problems in superb fashion. The SMOR poll has Edwards with a job approval rating of 63%, the highest of his tenure and the highest of any other politician.
In previous polls, Gov. Edwards approval rating was in the neighborhood of 50%.
The poll asked respondents to rate five elected officials and give them a job approval rating. Here are the results:

Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) – 63%.
State Treasurer John Kennedy (R) – 62%.
Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) – 53%.
U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R) – 49%.
President Barack Obama (D) – 42%.

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