Tag Archives: Sen. David Vitter

More on Louisiana

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.

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Louisiana Run-off Numbers

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.

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The Senate Reset

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 20, 2016 — It’s now inside of three weeks before the election, and hearing leaders of both parties claim they could control the Senate in the next Congress, it’s time to take a step back and see where the candidates actually stand.

To re-cap, Republicans are risking 24 seats as compared to the Democrats’ 10. In order to re-capture the majority they lost in 2014, the Dems must retain all 10 of their defensive seats, and then convert at least four Republican states if Hillary Clinton is elected president and five if she is not.

The Democrats appear safe in nine of their 10 seats: California (open-Barbara Boxer), Colorado (Michael Bennet), Connecticut (Richard Blumenthal), Hawaii (Brian Schatz), Maryland (open-Barbara Mikulski), New York (Chuck Schumer), Oregon (Ron Wyden), Vermont (Patrick Leahy), and Washington (Patty Murray).

The Republicans appear headed for victory in 14 of their defensive states: Alabama (Richard Shelby), Alaska (Lisa Murkowski), Arkansas (John Boozman), Georgia (Johnny Isakson), Idaho (Mike Crapo), Iowa (Chuck Grassley), Kansas (Jerry Moran), Kentucky (Rand Paul), North Dakota (John Hoeven), Ohio (Rob Portman), Oklahoma (James Lankford), South Carolina (Tim Scott), South Dakota (John Thune), and Utah (Mike Lee).

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The Last Senate Race

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 23, 2016 — The open Louisiana Senate campaign has not yet drawn much national attention, but that appears to be changing and in a big way. A new poll underscores just how close the contest is getting in the midst of surprising revelations.

Because the state’s jungle primary runs concurrently with the November general election, the action among the 24 candidates who will appear on the ballot is just now beginning to sizzle. Straight from the annals of what are always colorful Louisiana campaigns, the current race has is now tinged with prostitution and even murder.

Last week, controversy erupted when author Ethan Brown released his new book “Murder in the Bayou”, which details the demise of the “Jeff Davis 8”, the apparently related individual killings of sex workers in Jefferson Davis Parish.

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Cruz Gaining Support, Trump Lags;
Louisiana Senate Contenders Jump In

Nov. 30, 2015 — The new Iowa Quinnipiac University poll shows a significant gain for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in anticipation of the Feb. 1 Republican precinct meetings. Dr. Ben Carson recorded a substantial loss in support, while race leader Donald Trump posted an incremental gain.

According to the latest Q-Poll (Nov. 16-22; 600 likely Iowa Republican Caucus attenders), Sen. Cruz attracted an additional 13 percentage points when compared with the university’s Oct. 22 released survey. Their new ballot test finds Trump leading Cruz 25-23 percent, with Dr. Carson slipping to 18 percent (down from 28 percent in October) and Sen. Marco Rubio remaining constant with 13 percent support. Trump gained five percentage points in the last month.

Again we see the familiar separation pattern occurring, as the top four finishers in this poll: Trump, Cruz, Carson, and Rubio, again are firmly distinguishing themselves as the “Front Four”. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is a distant fifth at just five percent. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush drops even lower to four percent.

While Trump continues to lead, though his advantage here is consistently shrinking, he also is tops in another category, which is not good news. A full 30 percent of the sample identified Trump as “the candidate they would definitely not support” in the Iowa Caucus. For a change, and unfortunately for him, Jeb Bush scores high. He is second in this negative category with 21 percent saying he is the one candidate for whom they won’t vote. By contrast, Cruz, Rubio, and Carson score seven, five and four percent figures, respectively, in response to this question.

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Vitter Loses; Won’t Run in 2016

Nov. 24, 2015 — As a myriad of Louisiana gubernatorial polls correctly predicted, state Rep. John Bel Edwards (D) scored a landslide 56-44 percent victory over Sen. David Vitter (R) Saturday night. The result proved a bitter defeat for the Republican after he was cast as a prohibitive favorite when the campaign began.

In his concession speech, the senator confirmed that he will not seek re-election in the 2016 cycle, yielding the sixth open seat US Senate campaign for next year. There was strong speculation when the governor’s campaign began to turn against Vitter that the politically damaged senator would be highly vulnerable if he were to seek a third term after experiencing what would be a crushing defeat. Though the Republicans will now be forced to risk an open seat it is preferable to defending a wounded incumbent.

Saturday’s result was clearly a rejection of Vitter and not necessarily the Republican Party. Despite the Democrats winning at the top of the ticket, Republican lieutenant governor candidate Billy Nungesser, the Plaquemines parish president, recorded his own strong 55-45 percent victory margin against Democratic nominee Kip Holden.

In the double-Republican attorney general’s race, former US Rep. Jeff Landry (R-LA-3) unseated incumbent Buddy Caldwell with a similar 55-45 percent spread after strategically positioning himself as the more conservative candidate.

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Panetta In; Hanna Challenged

Nov. 20, 2015 — The first person to declare his candidacy in the open Monterey, Calif., congressional district has come forward.

On Friday, veteran California Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA-20) announced he would not seek a 13th term next year, retiring from the House at what will be age 75 when the current term ends.

Prior to Farr winning this California coastal seat in 1993, then-Rep. Leon Panetta represented the region since his original election 16-plus years earlier. Panetta would later serve as President Bill Clinton’s Director of the Office of Management & Budget, and then as White House Chief of Staff. Out of public life for almost 12 years, President Obama brought him back to Washington as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and then as Secretary of Defense.

Now, Panetta’s second son, Jimmy Panetta a 43-year-old Monterey County Deputy District Attorney, announced his congressional candidacy yesterday, and will have to be rated a favorite to advance to the general election. The seat’s Democratic nature suggests that two party members could well advance to November.

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Jindal Out of Presidential Race;
Virginia Redistricting Update

Nov. 19, 2015 — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal became the third Republican casualty of this 2016 presidential contest by suspending his campaign Tuesday. He joins Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and ex-Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) on the GOP political sidelines. Former Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) and ex-Gov. Lincoln Chafee (D-RI) have already exited stage left for the Democrats.

Gov. Jindal was hoping to make major inroads in Iowa, notching a respectable score there in the Feb. 1 Caucus vote, which theoretically could give him the momentum to become a top-tier candidate. But, his objective simply wasn’t coming to fruition. Though the governor was making some progress in Iowa – at least one poll had him as high as six percent – it was clear that his effort was falling short of what he needed to continue.

Therefore, 14 candidates remain, still the largest of all past Republican presidential fields. The Jindal exit won’t much change the flow of the campaign because he was not a factor anywhere but arguably Iowa. Never making the primetime debate, and his sagging popularity in his home state where even the Republican nominee to succeed him, Sen. David Vitter, is attempting to tie Democrat John Bel Edwards to his faltering Administration combined to place him in an untenable position for the national race. Hence, the obstacles proved too large for him to become viable. Continue reading

An Arizona Senate Update; Louisiana Governor Polling

Nov. 17, 2015 — The Rocky Mountain Poll, from the Behavior Research Center (Oct. 24-Nov. 5; 577 registered Arizona voters), brings us the Arizona Senate race’s most recent snapshot both for the Republican primary and Sen. John McCain’s (R) general election pairing.

Though the sample period of 13 days is unacceptably high, therefore creating a large polling error factor, the results at least provide us a reference point from which to begin serious monitoring of this campaign.

According to the results, Sen. McCain leads Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1) by an uncomfortably small margin, 37-31 percent, just a six-point spread. From McCain’s perspective, the poll’s most troubling aspect is his general election support figure topping out at only 37 percent. This could tie back to the large error factor, and because the pollsters gave the uncommitted/undecided response equivalent status to voicing a preference for one of the two major party candidates. In fact, 32 percent of the respondents said they are undecided. Therefore, not choosing a candidate became an easy and acceptable response.

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The Other Debate: “Liar”, “Holier Than Thou”

Nov. 13, 2015 — Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate was not the only political forum attracting public attention. In Louisiana, gubernatorial candidates Sen. David Vitter (R) and state Rep. John Bel Edwards (D) squared off in a televised medium in preparation for the Nov. 21 general election to elect a successor for term-limited Gov. Bobby Jindal (R).

After both candidates were trying to distance themselves from the unpopular Jindal, to the point where it became Vitter attacking Edwards for supporting five of the Republican governor’s eight budgets, the debate’s end ignited verbal fire. It was then that the candidates tussled over tactics involving political trackers, private investigators, and a particularly controversial ad (above) that Edwards is running against Vitter, claiming he skipped a veterans vote in order to make contact with a prostitute. The negative ad is bold in today’s age of campaigning in that it comes directly from the Edwards political committee and not from an outside organization supporting the Democratic candidate.

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Worsening News for Vitter in Louisiana; Webster’s Landing Zone

Nov. 9, 2015 — We’ve been spending a lot of time analyzing and reporting upon the Louisiana governor’s race, and with good reason. It isn’t often that we see a sitting US senator who attempts to run for his state’s gubernatorial office fail to win. Yet that very scenario may occur later this month when Sen. David Vitter (R) attempts to switch offices.

The news got even worse for the embattled candidate yesterday when Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who placed fourth in the jungle primary last week, publicly endorsed Democrat John Bel Edwards. Dardenne’s message was obviously personal. “The Republican brand has been damaged by the failed leadership of Bobby Jindal during this last term. David Vitter’s governorship will further damage that brand as I and others have pointed out during the campaign,” he said with Edwards standing next to him at the podium.

As we’ve repeatedly cited, the governor’s race has been trending badly for Vitter during the past two months and the chances of a Democratic upset now appear good. Therefore, with his Senate seat in the cycle next year, what will happen to his federal position should Vitter lose the governor’s race?

It is reasonable to believe that should a Vitter loss occur, the state’s 2016 Senate election will become a more viable Democratic target opportunity. Originally believed to be a safe seat for a Vitter re-election, a new campaign involving the embattled senator would obviously be a difficult one should he seek another term.

To complicate matters, at least two members of the state’s congressional delegation, representatives Charles Boustany (R-LA-3) and John Fleming (R-LA-4), have already expressed interest in running statewide next year. Both, among others, are already vying behind the scenes to replace Vitter by appointment should he actually be elected governor.

Since Vitter is already willing to relinquish the Senate seat in exchange for becoming governor, it is reasonable to assume that, should he be unsuccessful on Nov. 21, he will not seek re-election. Such would actually be the best Republican Party scenario, because the state and national political leaders could then start anew with a fresh candidate, presumably either Boustany, Fleming, or another elected official, who could run free of the negative baggage that Vitter obviously possesses.

FL-10; 11

We have reported on several occasions that representatives David Jolly (R-FL-13), Gwen Graham (D-FL-2), and Daniel Webster (R-FL-10), will be left without seats once the new Florida redistricting plan is formally adopted. The state Supreme Court will likely take final action on Nov. 10.

Jolly is already abandoning his House re-election effort, and instead is running for the state’s open Senate seat. Graham says she will make a decision about her own political future after the new lines are officially adopted. It is unlikely that she will run for the House, and she, too, could hop into the Senate contest, or sit out a cycle and challenge for a statewide position in 2018.

Rep. Webster attracted a great deal of attention in the past few weeks by running for House Speaker even though his 10th District seat is sure to go Democratic, this by his own admission. But now, Webster may be finding a political life preserver. Rep. Rich Nugent’s (R) announcement this week that he will not seek re-election in the 11th District, which the court generally left intact as a Republican seat, is now open for the 2016 election. The 11th borders Webster’s Orlando-anchored district before moving northwest stretching as far as the city of Ocala. It is conceivable that Webster would have a fighting chance to win here in a Republican primary. He does have a home within the confines of this CD, which gives him some background within the region.

Earlier this week Webster confirmed that he is at least considering hopping into the 11th, likely his best option from which to continue his congressional career. But, it is certain that he will attract primary opposition from sitting and former elected officials who either already or previously represent large chunks of the current district.

Odd-Year Election Recap;
Louisiana Governor’s Poll

Nov. 6, 2015 — Looking beyond the vote tallies in Tuesday night’s odd-year election we find that at least two voting patterns reappeared. First, we again see, as has been the case since the beginning of this century, that Republicans have a clear advantage in low-turnout elections while the Democrats do much better when participation factors are higher.

This same situation was evident in the pre-Reagan era of the 60s and 70s, but changed after the 1980 election. During the 80s and some of the 90s, it was Republicans who generally performed better when turnouts went higher.

In Kentucky, for example, Republican Matt Bevin scored a surprising 53-44 percent victory and, even though voter turnout increased by more than 150,000 people when compared to the last gubernatorial contest of four years ago, the participation rate was only 30.4 percent. Tuesday, just under 975,000 voters cast ballots in the race for governor. By contrast, the 2012 Kentucky presidential vote reached near the 1.8 million range, a turnout percentage closer to 60 percent of the registered voter universe for that particular election.

We also saw Republicans perform well in Virginia, where they held their majorities in both the state Senate and House of Delegates, losing no seats. The Mississippi races went heavily Republican with Gov. Phil Bryant (R) scoring a 67 percent re-election victory, the GOP taking most of the statewide races, and gaining a net one seat on the entire state legislative scorecard, within an aggregate of 174 (52 Senate seats; 122 House districts) electoral contests.

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Already Nasty in Louisiana

Oct. 30, 2015 — Just two days after the Louisiana gubernatorial jungle primary, run-off participants Sen. David Vitter (R) and state Rep. John Bel Edwards (D) and their allied Super PACs, are wasting no time launching hard-hitting attack ads in anticipation of the Nov. 21 general election.


It was clear the secondary campaign period was going to yield a nasty political affair, and the first ads may have already exceeded expectations. Edwards, knowing that Vitter would have to hit him hard because the latter has such poor approval ratings, comes out of the gate with an offensive defense of his record (above), predicting that Vitter will lie about him while simultaneously harpooning the senator throughout script.


But, the Super PAC ads go for the jugular. Gumbo PAC, a local trial lawyer financed anti-Vitter committee, features a well-conceived ad (above) comprised of clips from losing Republican gubernatorial candidates, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, with a two-fold purpose.

First, it shows Republican candidates viciously attacking a top GOP office holder in order to cement Vitter’s negative image, and second, reminding Angelle and Dardenne of their strong public anti-Vitter sentiments makes it more difficult for both to now endorse their Republican colleague, something that the sitting senator needs to better unite his party.


The Republican Governors Association immediately took to the airwaves to attack Edwards with the predicted strategic point of tying the Democratic gubernatorial nominee to an unpopular President Obama (above). They extend the political assault to include Edwards’ vote in the legislature to increase his own pay, what they say is cutting education funding, and then adding a new issue, that of the Democrat supporting “welfare for illegal aliens.”

The pre-election polling suggested that Edwards held what could be a substantial advantage over Sen. Vitter in the gubernatorial general election. But, those polls were taken before Edwards became an attack target. Shortly, we shall see what kind of an effect the ad messages are having upon the two-man race.

This governor’s contest could also change the 2016 US Senate campaigns, as we have previously discussed. Vitter’s seat is in-cycle next year and, should he become governor, the new chief executive will appoint his own successor. Such an individual will then be able to seek election to a full term as an appointed incumbent, an advantage that should negate most Republican opposition.

Should Vitter lose, which is now a distinct possibility, the senator will be faced with a tough decision whether to seek re-election. Seeing him fumble the governor’s race, the Democrats will come back with a strong campaign, thus possibly putting the seat in play. For Republicans to retain Senate control, the last thing they need is making what should be a safe seat competitive in a hotly contested national election cycle.

Vitter Barely Advances

Oct. 27, 2015 — Sen. David Vitter (R) who at one time appeared to be the early favorite to easily win the open Louisiana governor’s race, managed to advance to the general election Saturday night, but just barely.

As the polls had predicted, Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards took first place with 40 percent of the statewide vote, compared to only 23 percent for Vitter. Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle (R), showing strength in Cajun Country, placed a close third with 19 percent preference. Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne (R) secured 15 percent and fourth position. Five minor candidates combined for three percent.

Edwards, a Baton Rouge state legislator, placed first in 45 of the state’s 64 parishes, Louisiana’s designation for counties. He scored an outright majority in seven parishes, including Orleans, which hosts the major city of New Orleans. Here, the lone major Democratic candidate garnered 72 percent of the overall vote. Edwards took between 40 and 49 percent, inclusive, in 20 parishes. He finished first with a plurality of 39 percent or less in 18 parishes.

By contrast, Vitter placed first in only 10 parishes, several from the 1st Congressional District where he used to represent, four in the central part of the state, and another in Bossier Parish, home to Bossier City just across the Red River from Shreveport.

Angelle proved strong in the southwestern Louisiana, as well as taking small Caldwell and West Carroll parishes in the northeast.

Vitter was the subject of a slew of negative attacks, political assaults that obviously took their toll when seeing his poor performance. A sitting US senator who has twice won statewide campaigns outright should have commanded better than 23 percent of the overall vote, understanding that more than three-quarters of those who cast a ballot chose another candidate.

It became apparent that Edwards would finish first, largely because he was the consensus Democrat against a fractured field of three Republicans. The polling correctly reflected that if all of the candidates ganged up on Vitter and emphasized his negatives – Washington politician, previous sex scandal, etc. – that it would work to a great degree. In the general election campaign, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 21, it will be Vitter’s turn to strike back against a lone opponent.

The voters here can expect a very negative and nasty general election campaign. For Vitter to win, he will have to make Edwards such an unacceptable figure that voters will choose the Republican senator because he is more conservative, not because they like, or hold a positive image of him.

Despite the fact that Democrats have a 46-28 percent partisan registration edge among the state’s almost 2.9 million voters, the GOP has been dominant here in many recent campaigns and Vitter will need to draw upon this type of support if he is to carry the day in the next vote.

Largely, the rest of Saturday’s voting held true for Republicans. Though the consensus Democrat barely placed first in the lieutenant governor’s race, again against several GOP candidates, the Republicans re-elected outright the secretary of state, treasurer, and agriculture and insurance commissioners. In the attorney general’s campaign, former US Rep. Jeff Landry (R-LA-3), finished a close second to incumbent Buddy Caldwell (R), and has a good chance of winning the position in the double-Republican general election.

Voter participation was 38.5 percent of the qualified registrants, or slightly over 1.1 million individuals. This is actually a bit higher than the 1.022 million who voted in 2011, when the Louisiana electorate re-elected Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) outright. The turnout was 1.264 million when Vitter won his second Senate term in the regular 2010 election.

The pre-primary polls suggesting that Edwards is ahead of Vitter in the general could well prove true. Democrats are clearly in position to score an upset, but despite being less than a month in duration, this race has a very long way to go.

Vitter’s Louisiana Gubernatorial Election Tomorrow

Oct. 23, 2015 — Tomorrow’s jungle primary election will begin the process of replacing term-limited Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), and it appears that the lone Democrat in the race and Republican Sen. David Vitter will advance to the Nov. 21 general election. In the unlikely event that any candidate secures an outright majority, such a person would be automatically elected.

State Rep. John Bel Edwards (D) is leading in all polls, and for two reasons. First, as the unified Democratic candidate, he has solidified his party vote as opposed to the Republicans, who are dispersing their support among three candidates.

Second, Sen. Vitter has been absorbing a multitude of attacks, from being labeled a “Washington politician”, to continuing the unpopular Jindal’s policies, to past sexual scandals, to being called aloof and out of touch with the Louisiana voting base — all have taken their toll upon him. Originally leading the race, it now appears he will finish a distant second, but still far enough ahead of Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne to advance.

An Edwards-Vitter run-off election will be nasty and bitter. It is likely the Democrats have saved their toughest attacks on Vitter until the run-off, knowing that a secondary election is a virtual certainty. Sen. Vitter, whose personal approval ratings are poor, also will go negative, understanding that will be his easiest path to victory. Therefore, expect many attacks on Edwards — often linking him with an unpopular President Obama and the national Democratic Party — to be launched from the Vitter campaign, the national Republican Party organization, and Super PACs supporting the GOP nominee.