By Jim Ellis
Dec. 8, 2016 — A new, but questionable, poll was released from Tulane University covering the open Louisiana Senate run-off campaign to be decided this Saturday. The poll (Nov. 8-18; 960 Louisiana adults) finds state Treasurer John Kennedy (R) leading Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D), 60-40 percent. Incumbent Sen. David Vitter (R), who last year was defeated in a run for governor, is retiring.
A great deal is wrong with this survey. First, though the poll was completed on Nov. 18, it was only released this past Tuesday, Dec. 7, thus the time lag may not reflect the current race status. Second, the sampling period is 11 days, which is too long of a response window. Third, there is no proper screen for registered voters, let alone likely participants. Fourth, the first sampling day was the regular Election Day, which potentially skews responses, and fifth, the pollsters pushed sampling group participants into making a choice only between the two candidates, not allowing for an undecided position.
All that being said, the 60-40 split is still relatively consistent with the few other polls we have seen for this race. All indications point to a Kennedy victory Saturday evening. If successful in his quest for the Senate, the partisan division for the new body will be 52R-46D-2I.
Jungle primary turnout registered 1,933,635 voters statewide. A participation factor closer to 1.5 million is expected for the run-off.
Some pre-election data is coming from the 3rd Congressional District, the open double-Republican run-off between Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle and retired police captain Clay Higgins. This Cajun Country district is open because Rep. Charles Boustany (R-Lafayette) unsuccessfully ran for Senate.
Outside money is now beginning to surface here in the final week. A group called “Making Louisiana Great Again” just launched a last-minute $152,000 media buy, attacking Angelle and backing Higgins. Badly outspent in the race, but leading in the polls, the injection of outside support for police captain, who is viewed as a local folk hero for his prolific Crime Stoppers videos, could greatly help him.
At this point, 28,130 ballots have been cast in early voting in the southwestern Louisiana congressional district, with a believed split of 47:40 percent Republican to Democratic. For the jungle primary election, held concurrently with the general election on Nov. 8, 78,536 individuals cast early votes. The Republican/ Democrat split was 43:40 percent, respectively.
Considering that this is a contest between two Republican candidates, it is not surprising to see increased Republican turnout, as the Democratic participation level will much likely be far below their Nov. 8 numbers. In the jungle primary, 80.7 percent of the voters chose one of the eight Republican candidates. Combined, the two Democrats could only manage a showing of 17.5 percent.
The drop-off from the 2014 jungle primary to the December run-off was 12.5 and 13.7 percent for the two congressional district secondary elections (Districts 5 and 6), while the US Senate run-off participation fell 13.5 percent in relation to the jungle primary turnout.
Under this model, averaging a drop-off of 13.1 percent derived from the 2014 congressional races, a projected turnout in the range of 278,000 voters is predicted for the 3rd District run-off, though the actual count may be considerably lower.
Featuring a double-Republican race and early voting running at only 36 percent of what the jungle primary produced, it is reasonable to calculate a turnout well below the aforementioned projected figure.
The 4th District is proving a quiet affair between Republican state Rep. Mike Johnson and Democratic attorney Marshall Jones. What little polling exists, coupled with the regional voting history, and that 69.8 percent of the jungle primary voters chose a Republican candidate, it is a foregone conclusion that Johnson is the clear favorite to capture the seat on Saturday night.
Similar to the situation in the adjacent 3rd District, this seat is open because the incumbent, Rep. John Fleming (R-Minden/Shreveport), also failed to qualify for the run-off in his Senatorial run.
Primary turnout was about 35,000 voters less than the District 3 participation rate, meaning a lower run-off total. Because the race has not generated much in the way of excitement, a vote total well below the projected 248,000 range would not be surprising.