Vitter maintains lead on paper

by Jeremy Alford, LaPolitics

From left: David Vitter, Jay Dardenne, John Bel Edwards and Scott Angelle

For Sen. David Vitter, an all-GOP runoff is less preferable to a classic R vs. D showdown. That’s why the pro-Vitter Fund For Louisiana’s Future super PAC may, sooner than later, start propping up Edwards’ candidacy. The super PAC, which cannot coordinate activities with campaigns and candidates, has already sent an email out offering supportive words for Edwards.

Historic gubernatorial election patterns, which tend to favor underdogs, may not necessarily bode well for Vitter, but the latest poll from Southern Media and Opinion Research shows he would be the heavy favorite if the race were held today.

He leads the field with 38 percent, followed by Edwards, 24 percent; Dardenne, 16 percent; Angelle, 5 percent; and undecided, 15 percent.

It’s a bump up from the low to mid 30s for Vitter, after a string of high-profile endorsements and no real money spent in the field or on TV. He dominates nearly every line in the cross-tabs, with only a few questionable stats.

How the polling breaks down

Vitter tops Dardenne in the Baton Rouge-anchored 6th Congressional District, 30-25, soaking up the hard-right vote in the capital region, which has likely been bolstered by his opposition stance to Common Core compared to Dardenne’s support. The case for Vitter is less so in the broader Florida and River parishes, 25-24, but with a +/- 4 percent margin of error Dardenne is definitely in the fight on his home turf.

The margin of error could be used in the trial heat as well to take Edwards down four points and Dardenne up four — and suddenly there’s a two-way race for second place. Such is the case with polls and campaigns; who benefits depends on who you ask.

Vitter surprisingly bests Edwards in the New Orleans-based 2nd Congressional District, barely, 33-32, which the margin of error could sway. But it appears tight on the page.

If anything, Vitter may be over-polling with black voters, carrying 16 percent to Edwards’ 52 percent, and 6 percent to 59 percent among black Democrats. Vitter will surely lose numbers in this area and Edwards will gain. But it’s a portion of the electorate that Dardenne, especially, and Angelle are working to gain ground with.

In every comparison possible, Vitter has a 15- or 16-point gender gap between male and female voters. He runs so solidly among white males, with 55 percent, that it may not matter, said SMOR partner Bernie Pinsonat. But the goal of his opponents has to be to widen the gap and strengthen female support for their campaigns.

Vitter elbows out Angelle in the 3rd District, 36-13, and in the broader Acadiana region, 35-13, which is an area the senior senator has always run slightly better in than his home base of Jefferson-Orleans.

Vitter actually performs best in wide open north Louisiana, where no candidate has surfaced. He carried 46 percent of the piney north region in the poll, 52 percent of the 4th District and 35 percent of the 5th District.

The SMOR poll used 600 samples collected May 5-9. A group of subscribers paid for the annual poll, each putting up no more than $2,000 and having no input or advance knowledge of the poll questions, according to Pinsonat.