Gov. race: Edwards leads as Vitter skids

A widely respected firm’s latest poll on the governor's race — a poll obtained by The Independent that hasn’t been publicly released — shows state Rep. John Bel Edwards with a six-point lead over previous frontrunner Sen. David Vitter.

Democrat John Bel Edwards, left, has taken the lead over Sen. David Vitter and the other Republicans in the race.

A widely respected firm’s latest poll on the Louisiana governor's race — a poll The Independent obtained through a source before its public release — shows the lone Democrat in the contest, Amite state Rep. John Bel Edwards, with a six-point lead over previous (and, as conventional wisdom would have it) frontrunner U.S. Sen. David Vitter.

Conducted sometime in late June by Market Research Insight, the respected and frequently used polling firm of Verne Kennedy, the poll shows Edwards with 30 percent support in the race, followed by Vitter at 24, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle at 14 and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne at 12 percent. Twenty percent of respondents were undecided.

The figures are derived from respondents who either chose a candidate or indicated they were leaning toward that candidate. The pick/lean ratios for the candidates in the poll were Edwards 19/11, Vitter 20/4, Angelle 10/4 and Dardenne 9/3.

A similar MRI/Kennedy poll conducted a month before this most recent poll shows Edwards is maintaining traction with voters and charts a loss of momentum for Vitter. The earlier poll conducted May 20 had Vitter and Edwards tied at 29 percent support while Angelle had risen to 17 percent and Dardenne followed at 12. Angelle fell in favor with voters by three points from May to June while Dardenne remained stuck at 12 percent. The five-point drop by Vitter from May to June was the most precipitous among the candidates. Also, the number of undecided voters rose from 13 percent in May to 20 percent in June.

Recall that Angelle’s campaign made much ado about the May poll, which suggested he had surged into double-digit contention with the Vitter-Edwards juggernaut, an interpretation disputed by Verne Kennedy.

We’re still hoping to get our hands on the so-called “cross tabs” for the poll, which will tell us such things as what regions of the state, what ethnicities and other demographics support which candidates. For example, how is Edwards, a pro-life Catholic, polling in heavily Catholic, pro-life Acadiana? How are Vitter’s prostitution scandals of yore playing with evangelical, family-values Christians in north and central Louisiana?

We’re told the poll was commissioned by New Orleans business magnate and Advocate owner/publisher John Georges and that, tellingly, the editors of The Advocate have declined to release the results of the poll because of the publisher’s proximity to it. More on that later this week.