The poll was conducted by veteran Louisiana pollster Verne Kennedy of Market Research Insight for a group of Louisiana business executives. It was first published by noted columnist Bob Mann in his column at NOLA.com with the permission of the executives.
Mann says in his column, “Keep in mind, this poll was not originally intended for public release. Kennedy’s role is to give his clients the best possible insight into what the numbers mean and their implications for the race.”
Mann went on the say that the numbers were released to him in hopes of clearing up what Kennedy believes is a mischaracterization of the poll by Republican candidate Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle.
What makes Kennedy’s poll more viable than previous polls is that, with his experience in polling in Louisiana, he used historical voting patterns to allocate black votes to each candidate.
History shows that when a Democrat is in a runoff with a Republican, the Democrat can expect to capture at least 90% of the black vote. In the recent U.S. Senate race, former Sen. Mary Landrieu garnered 94% of the black vote.
When Kennedy applied that factor to a runoff between Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter and state Sen. John Bel Edwards, the two likely candidates to wind up there, the result was indeed stunning.
It showed the race a dead heat with each candidate having 43% of the vote with 14% uncertain.
Kennedy knows from experience that looking at the raw numbers in a poll without the distribution of the black vote gives an inaccurate result. Before distributing the black vote, the results were:
Vitter 29%, Edwards 29%, Angelle 17%, and Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne 12% with 13% uncertain.
Similarly, in a runoff scenario between Vitter and Edwards before distribution of the black vote had Vitter in front 45-36% with 19% uncertain.
Kennedy is one of the most respected pollsters in the country and is considered an expert on Louisiana politics. Therefore, his poll shines a new light on the governor’s race this fall and certainly has the attention of state politicos and money-givers.
How voters see themselves
Kennedy also asked those polled what they considered their political affiliation to be. The result: Republican 44%, Complete Independent 22%, and Democrat 30%. Not sure was 4%.
That finding fits in with Vitter’s 43% in the redistribution results, but it also means that Edwards is apparently picking up a lot of votes from Independents.
Respondents were also asked if they were satisfied with the current lineup of candidates. Satisfied were 41%, while 49% indicated they wanted someone new and 9% were not sure..
With retired Gen. Russel Honore opting out of the race, it is unlikely another major candidate will surface
Jindal continues to plummet
Kennedy’s poll was more bad news for Gov. Bobby Jindal as he is out-of-state campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination.
Only 25% of those surveyed said they were satisfied with Jindal’s job performance as governor. It is his lowest rating yet A whopping 61% said they were dissatisfied and 11% had no opinion.
Mann pointed out the poll was conducted in the midst of the legislative session when the state’s disastrous financial situation was front and center.
“Still, it surely is safe to say that Jindal is not only the least popular presidential candidate, he is among the least popular governors in the United States,” Mann noted.
Only 16% of respondents feel the state is on the right track with 58% saying it is on the wrong track.
...About that black vote
It is a foregone conclusion that Democrat John Bel Edwards will have to energize blacks to vote if he is to have a chance of winning the governor’s race.
Here are the current voter registration stats:
Total Registered – 2,882,698. Of that total 64.1% are white, 31.3% are black, and 4.6% are other races. By party affiliation, 46.3% are Democrats, 28% are Republicans, and 25.7% are Other Party/No Party, commonly referred to as Independents.
Looking at those stats, one would think Edwards has an excellent shot at winning. But the problem for him is wooing back many Democrats who have been voting Republican as well as capturing a substantial portion of the so-called Independent vote.
A look at the 2014 U.S. Senate race between Democrat Mary Landrieu and Republican Bill Cassidy, who won 54-46%, is a good indication of how voters turn out.
In that race, 43.64% of the state’s 2,945,731 registered voters cast ballots. White voter turnout was 45.5%, black voter turnout was 42.21%, and other races turnout was 27.81%.
By party affiliation, 46.99% of Democrats voted, 52.80% of Republicans, and 27.62% of Other Party/No Party voters.
When there was the opportunity to elect a black president, black voters upped their game. But, interestingly, more blacks turned out for President Obama’s re-election in 2012 than did when he first ran in 2008.
In the 2012 presidential election, turnout among black voters in Louisiana was 67.19%. In 2008, the black turnout was 64.64%.
Historically, white voters outvote black voters. But the gap between the two is shrinking. At one time, one could figure that whites would outvote blacks by as much as 10%. But in the 2008 presidential race, the gap was about 5%; in 2012, it was about 2%; and in 2014, it was about 3%.
What must be factored in, of course, is that there are many more white voters than black voters in the state. Currently, that number stands at 943,701 more white than black registered voters.
For example, in the 2014 U,.S. Senate race, Landrieu lost to Cassidy by 151,169 votes. While she received 94% of the black vote, 534,092 registered blacks did not vote.
No matter how you cut it, elections still come down to voter turnout and which candidate can best motivate his or her supporters to go the polls and vote on election day.