Caroline Fayard has emerged as the Democrat most likely to claim a spot in the December runoff, according to a recent statewide survey conducted by GBA Strategies.
According to the survey report, “Fayard is essentially tied with Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell for second at this early stage, but she shows unparalleled potential to expand her support among a racially and geographically diverse cross-section of Democratic and Independent voters.”
Contributing to Fayard’s strength in the race for U.S. Senate is her 2010 candidacy for lieutenant governor. Caroline Fayard’s 43% finish in 2010 makes her the strongest tested statewide Democratic Candidate, more than tripling Commissioner Campbell’s 12.5% finish in his 2007 run for governor against Bobby Jindal.
Here is the summary of poll results. Click here for the PDF
The race for U.S. Senate in Louisiana is still taking shape less than five months before Election Day, but clear trends have begun to emerge. As the only candidate who has been elected statewide, John Kennedy currently leads the race, largely based on name recognition, but his current position represents his high water mark, and this poll shows his support will decline as other candidates increase their profiles. Caroline Fayard emerges as a clear frontrunner to claim a spot in the December runoff; Fayard is essentially tied with Foster Campbell for second at this early stage, but she shows unparalleled potential to expand her support among a racially and geographically diverse cross-section of Democratic and Independent voters.
Our survey of 500 likely voters reveals a challenging political environment, with voters expressing deep dissatisfaction with both parties and most political figures tested. Dissatisfaction with the presidential nominees from each party only exacerbates this mood.
However, John Bel Edwards is weathering the political climate in the first months of his term as Governor (53 percent approve, 37 percent disapprove). In comparison, former Governor Bobby Jindal remains the most unpopular figure tested (21 percent favorable, 66 percent unfavorable) and is still a deeply polarizing figure for most voters regardless of race, age, or geography.
Louisiana Statewide Survey Results and Analysis
In the race for the open U.S. Senate seat, this survey shows the four major Republican candidates – Kennedy, John Fleming, Charles Boustany, and Rob Maness – competing for one bloc of predominantly white Republican and Republican-leaning voters, while Fayard and Campbell compete for a bloc of African American and white Democratic voters. There is little crossover between the persuadable universes for the candidates from the respective parties.
Thus, the winner between the two main Democratic candidates will likely attract at least 22-25 percent of the vote in November and almost certainly advance to the runoff against the survivor of what promises to be a brutal four-way battle on the Republican side.
Looking at the two main Democratic candidates, Campbell’s support is primarily built on the same North Louisiana voters who have consistently elected him for over 40 years, but he does not demonstrate much potential to expand beyond that base. This is evidenced by the results of this survey, and is in line with his previous statewide results in 2007, when he finished with only 12.46% statewide, failing to force a runoff against Jindal. Despite lower initial name identification, Fayard is already even with Campbell statewide due to her superior performance in New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana, as well as her early advantage among African American women.
In order to simulate the developing campaign, we introduced positive messages for each of the six major candidates in the race, echoing the messages they have each been advancing in public appearances and campaign communications to this point. While Maness and Fleming made small gains and Kennedy slipped slightly, the Republican side of the November election was largely unchanged, underscoring the difficulty every candidate will have being heard in such a crowded political environment dominated by the presidential race. Notably, on the Democratic side of the ledger, Fayard moved out to an important lead over Campbell, consolidating support among core Democratic constituencies.
Louisiana Statewide Survey Results and Analysis
Fayard’s message of building an economy that works for the middle class – including support for raising the minimum wage and equal pay for equal work – strikes a chord with voters. As a female and the youngest viable candidate in the race, Fayard has unique appeal to core Democratic constituencies. Fayard has demonstrated her ability to appeal to these audiences statewide before, winning over 24 percent of the vote and defeating six other candidates in order to advance to a run-off in the 2010 race for lieutenant governor.
Kennedy’s current standing in the race (30 percent) is largely based on his being the only candidate in the race with statewide name ID, and likely represents his ceiling. His share of the vote only has one way to go as voters learn more about the other candidates. Boustany and Fleming enjoy strong bases in their respective geographic homes but are virtually unknown in the rest of the state and must compete with one another, as well as Maness, for a finite number of Republican-leaning voters. Similarly, Campbell currently has advantages in North Louisiana but has no real support in the rest of the state, and he likely will be challenged to connect with a Democratic-leaning electorate that is 58 percent African American, 62 percent female, and 60 percent residing in the New Orleans and Baton Rouge media markets. Only Fayard demonstrates the potential for broad gains in this crowded electorate, putting her in a very strong position to not only advance to the runoff in December, but to frame the choice facing voters in that election as well.