Poll position: Has John Georges lost it?

Photo by Robin May

Is the super-wealthy New Orleans business magnate and publisher of Louisiana’s biggest and best daily newspaper actually mulling a run for governor just three months before the election? That un-released Media Research Insight poll we reported on Wednesday suggests he was thinking about it.

We reported yesterday on that MRI poll commissioned (i.e., paid for) by Advocate publisher John Georges and a cadre of legislative lobbyists in late June that showed Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards opening up a six-point lead on sagging Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter. The poll was striking in part for several push-poll, leading questions — mentioning, for example, Vitter’s prostitution scandal in one question and highlighting his opposition to President Obama in another.

But most striking and worthy of a head scratch were the poll questions in which Georges, a Republican turned Democrat who eight years ago ran for governor as an independent — the election was handily won without the need for a runoff by then U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal — replaces Edwards. C’est what? That’s right, the poll conducted by MRI, a widely respected firm, also gauged public support for a gubernatorial bid by Georges. But nowhere in the poll do Georges and Edwards, fellow Democrats, compete against each other. Odd to say the least.

Georges hasn’t signaled any intention to seek the Fourth Floor at the Capitol, and who knows after getting the results of the poll whether he’s cooled on the idea for this election cycle?

In a question on the primary election pitting all candidates — Vitter, Scott Angelle, Jay Dardenne and Georges instead of Edwards — Vitter led with 32 percent of respondents who said they would either vote for him or were leaning toward Vitter; Georges came in second with 25 percent followed by Angelle at 13 and Dardenne at 12. But a question pitting Georges against Vitter in a runoff had Vitter walking away with 45 percent support to Georges’ 31. (It’s worth mentioning that the attendant question pitting Edwards against Vitter in a runoff also had Vitter winning 44-34 over Edwards, although Edwards pulled the most support, 30 percent to Vitter’s 24, against all candidates sans Georges in a primary field.)

We’re told by reliable sources that The Advocate has been sitting on this poll, the results of which were released to Georges et al on July 1 — its editors refusing to report on it because their boss commissioned the poll and inserted himself into it.

Louisiana politics has been stranger, but not by much.