The Last Campaigns

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 6, 2016 — The marathon 2016 election cycle will come to a close on Saturday with the Louisiana run-off elections. The US Senate race and two congressional elections were forced to secondary contests, and Republicans appear poised to sweep the trio.

New Senate polling data again shows Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy holding a commanding lead with majority support. According to the new Southern Media & Opinion Research poll (Nov. 28-30; 500 likely Louisiana run-off voters) Kennedy leads his run-off opponent, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D), 52-38 percent.

Kennedy has a favorability rating of 57:35 percent positive to negative versus Campbell’s 46:44 percent. Kennedy runs strong in the five Republican congressional districts, losing only in the New Orleans-anchored 2nd CD. He posts best in the 1st (Slidell, Metairie, St. Bernard, Jefferson Parishes), 4th (Shreveport, Bossier City, Minden, Nachitoches), and 5th CD (Monroe, Alexandria, Bogalusa), recording around a 30-point spread in each. Campbell has a 40-point margin in the 2nd District (New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Plaquemine).

The Democratic nominee, a frequent statewide candidate, has been raising more money than Kennedy since the Nov. 8 election by about $900,000, but the two have spent virtually the same amount for the entire campaign ($3.0 million for Kennedy; $2.8 million for Campbell). Kennedy is running hard right, and echos Donald Trump’s trade position. Campbell, rather surprisingly, is emphasizing the same points as Hillary Clinton: equal pay for women, attacking the rich, increased minimum wage, forgiving college loans. Trump carried Louisiana 58-38 percent, which allows people to suggest the Campbell strategy is dubious.

With little in the way of outside support coming into the state for either candidate and seeing the Southern Media poll fall into the same realm as the only other published poll (Trafalgar Group; Nov. 14-17; Kennedy, 58-35 percent), strongly suggests that Kennedy should sweep to victory on Saturday night.

The 3rd Congressional District race may yield the most interesting finish of the three campaigns. This is a double-Republican run-off between Public Service Commissioner and former Lt. Gov. Scott Angelle and retired Police Captain Clay Higgins, who came to regional fame through his Crime Stoppers television and Internet segments and messages.

The Nov. 8 election featured 12 candidates. Angelle, the favorite, scored a disappointing 29 percent, while Higgins was close behind with 2 percent. Angelle has a strong financial resource advantage, $1.6 million to $281,000, but Higgins has led in the few published polls. Angelle says he has internal data showing him back in first place, and has been hitting Higgins hard. The final days could be determinative. Most observers believe Higgins will win, but Angelle is still within striking distance.

In the Shreveport-based 4th District, despite Democrat Marshall Jones finishing first in the jungle primary, 28-25 percent, over state Rep. Mike Johnson (R) and six others, it is the Republican who is the strong favorite heading into the election.

Jones had still raised less than $400,000 through Nov. 20, and had just over $2,000 in the bank. Jones largely placed first in the crowded primary election because he was the lone Democrat and could coalesce the party faithful. Considering that 70 percent of the Nov. 8 voters chose a Republican candidate, Jones’ chances are minimal at best.

Johnson is cruising through the run-off period and should easily bring his campaign home come Saturday night.

At the end of the Louisiana elections, Republicans will hold a 52-26-2 margin in the Senate, and claim a 241-194 spread in the House.

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