The Suffolk University poll, conducted for WWL-TV, USA Today and Gannett Louisiana newspapers, shows the two frontrunners in essentially a statistical dead heat, with 36 percent of those surveyed saying they would vote for incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu in the Nov. 4 primary. 35 percent chose Rep. Bill Cassidy and 11 percent chose Tea Party-backed candidate Col. Rob Maness. 18 percent were undecided or chose other candidates.The conventional argument is that Maness's support all accrues automatically to Cassidy in a runoff. Although one wonders how many of them will bother to show up at all. The fact that Maness polls as well as he does now is a reflection of just how unlikable Cassidy is, even to the conservative voters he is courting. People think the dude is weird.
"It's an amazing race right now and it looks from the polling that Sen. Landrieu's best shot to make a real showing is in this November election," said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, which conducted the poll. Suffolk surveyed 500 voters across Louisiana Oct. 23-26. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.
If, as expected, the race goes to a Dec. 6 runoff between the two frontrunners, those polled favored Cassidy 48 percent to 41 percent, with still 11 percent undecided.
Fan outside LSU game holding up sign with Bill Cassidy's picture that says, "Dude is weird. He's just weird." pic.twitter.com/Qwfh6aUAmL
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) October 25, 2014
So you have to figure on a lot of Maness-iacs (TM) staying home in December. The question for the ones who do show up will be, what do they actually care about?
Notice the issues these pollsters focus on in their analysis.
"Two years ago when we had a nationally popular president, you didn't have the ISIS situation, we didn't have the Ebola threat and what's been going on and there were many other news events that have hurt him," Paleologos said. Obama has a 60 percent unfavorable rating and a 36 percent favorable rating in the poll.Ebola, ISIS, Obamacare, all the generic stuff in the national news right now. If these are the issues on the minds of Maness voters, and they aren't excited about Bill Cassidy, my guess is a lot of them will stay home.
Those polled also showed little love for those in congress, with 64 percent giving them an unfavorable ranking. Paleologos says it's actually higher in some places.
"That tells us there's a big frustration with Washington, D.C. and the solutions of Washington and of course in Louisiana you've got issues like Obamacare that don't poll well. It's perceived as sort of a national program that's hurtful."
Mary Landrieu's campaign, on the other hand, is about none of these things. Instead she, along with every big name and news organization endorsing her, has emphasized her constituent services record and her powerful Senate Energy Committee chairmanship.
I don't know what the Maness voters are going to do in the runoff. But I don't think it's too far fetched to guess that those who are interested in the Louisiana-specific issues will be more motivated to stay in the game than those who are just playing the run-of-the-mill Obama protest game. It still might mean that Mary doesn't have the numbers she needs. But it's hard to argue with the formula.
Early voting is still available today and tomorrow, by the way. See the Secretary of State's website for information on polling locations.