By Jim Ellis
Nov. 22, 2016 — With the Dec. 10 run-off election fast approaching for the open Louisiana US Senate race and two congressional campaigns, new data has been released into the public domain.
The responses to a statewide poll suggest that state Treasurer John Kennedy (R) has developed a commanding lead over Democratic Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell. The 4th Congressional District sample is also large enough to project state Rep. Mike Johnson (R) with a clear advantage, but the 3rd District contest between two Republicans could bring a surprising conclusion.
The Atlanta based Trafalgar Group surveyed the state electorate (Nov. 14-17; 2,200-plus likely Louisiana run-off voters; 600-plus in each of congressional districts 3 and 4; via interactive voice response system) and found four-term treasurer Kennedy staked to a strong 58-35 percent advantage. Without adding the individuals leaning to one of the candidates Kennedy’s margin is 48-27 percent.
In the 4th District congressional race, GOP candidate Johnson is opening up a large 59-35 percent lead over Democratic attorney J. Marshall Jones. This is not particularly surprising since the western state district is solidly Republican (2012: Romney 59 percent; Obama 40 percent), and has not been represented by a Democrat since Buddy Roemer (D-Bossier City) vacated the seat back in 1988 to become governor.
Jones placed first in the jungle primary largely because he was the only Democrat in a field of eight candidates. The coalescing of Democratic votes meant that a 28 percent showing was enough for him to capture the first run-off position. But, 70 percent of the individuals supported a Republican candidate, thus giving credence to Trafalgar’s polling result that makes Johnson a big favorite for the December secondary election.
The double Republican 3rd District run-off is the more interesting contest, however. Here, retired police captain Clay Higgins, who spent just over $200,000 for the jungle primary, leads state public service commissioner and ex-lieutenant governor Scott Angelle, 50-42 percent. Angelle, who expended more than $1.3 million and placed a strong third in the 2015 governor’s race, finished first in the jungle primary but with only a 29-26 percent margin over Higgins while 10 other candidates lagged behind.
Magellan Strategies (Nov. 15-16; 400 LA-3 likely run-off voters) also tested this congressional race and found Higgins’ advantage to be an even stronger 50-32 percent.
Though Angelle performed well in the governor’s race, placing only four percentage points behind Sen. David Vitter (R) in attempting to qualify for the second run-off position, he possesses some local negatives that did not become prominent in the statewide campaign.
Magellan, testing Angelle’s personal ratings, found that 57 percent of the people are less likely to support him because of the controversy surrounding a local 2012 sinkhole issue. A collapsed salt dome occurred in Assumption Parish resulting in a major public safety controversy because oil and gasses escaped to the surface.
Five days after the sinkhole was discovered, Angelle resigned his position as state Natural Resources Director in the unpopular Bobby Jindal Administration. He received heavy criticism for leaving a position of responsibility just after the disaster occurred, especially when it came to light that Angelle had advance knowledge of the impeding situation.
Though the sinkhole controversy did not become a major issue in his statewide gubernatorial bid, it is becoming a key focal point back in the local congressional district.
While Angelle seems to be trailing Higgins rather badly, it appears that the former is about to launch a major counterattack, meaning this contest could again become close. Since the two contenders are both Republicans there will be no outside party spending coming in to augment one side or the other. Therefore, Angelle’s strong campaign resource advantage becomes a major factor.
Both Reps. Charles Boustany (R-Lafayette) and John Fleming (R-Minden/ Shreveport) ran unsuccessfully for the Senate, thus leaving their respective 3rd and 4th Districts open.