Public Policy Polling recently surveyed a Louisiana (Feb. 8-12; 603 registered Louisiana voters) sampling group for purposes of testing three-term Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D) re-election viability. What they found is a senator who leads all of her potential Republican opponents, but only by close or relatively close margins. Ironically, it is the individual most likely to run, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6), who appears to be in the weakest position.
On the job approval front, Sen. Landrieu scores a very mediocre 47:45 percent positive to negative, but this is a big improvement over PPP’s last poll (August 2010) when she was upside down to the tune of 41:53 percent.
Perhaps the bigger news is how far Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has dropped in popularity. Though Jindal has already removed himself from consideration for the Senate race, PPP shows that he would trail Landrieu 41-49 percent. His favorability rating has plunged from 58:34 percent favorable to unfavorable in August of 2010 to an almost mirror-like 37:57 percent today. According to the PPP analysis, in the space of 18 months, Jindal has gone from being one of the most popular governors in the country to among the least.
The potential candidate faring the best against Landrieu is Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne. He sports a 41:23 percent favorability index and trails the senator by only three points, 43-46 percent.
Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA-3), who defeated Rep. Jeff Landry (R-LA-3) in an incumbent pairing situation because Louisiana lost a district in reapportionment, comes within six points of the incumbent, trailing 42-48 percent.
Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is, as stated above, the most likely of all the aforementioned to actually make a race against the senator is down by a full 10 points, 40-50 percent. The other person mentioned as a viable statewide possibility, the previously mentioned Landry, trails by a similar 39-48 percent count.
The Public Policy Polling data provides us an indication that, as most people currently believe, a challenge race against Sen. Landrieu would be seriously competitive. Realistically, if the Republicans are to win the six seats they need to claim the Senate majority in 2014, this state would have to be included in the new configuration. Today, such an outcome does not appear tangible, but we can expect yet another hard-fought Louisiana campaign come next year’s summer and fall months.
It is also important to keep in mind that the Bayou State employs a unique election system. Their jungle primary is run concurrently with the national general election, yielding to a December 2014 run-off contest if no candidate receives an absolute majority. In 2008, Sen. Landrieu won a 52-46 percent victory over then-state Treasurer John Kennedy (R). But, six years before that, she was forced into a December run-off election. In 2002, she prevailed 52-48 percent over Suzy Haik Terrell after scoring only 46 percent on the original November tally.