Thursday, 22 March 2018 14:25

Yenni is albatros around Fortunato's neck in Jefferson Parish Sheriff's race

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yenniWith less than two full days left in the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, if the just-released University of New Orleans poll proves to be accurate, one can  easily cite one major factor for the outcome. Blame clearly would go to-a statement by candidate John Fortunato that he could support Mike Yenni. President. His opponent, Joe Lopinto said he would not. Mike Yenni, is the beleaguered Jefferson Parish President hit by a sex scandal involving a young man adult.

While the gap was clearly closing between the two candidates compared to an October 2017 UNO poll in which Fortunato led by roughly 25 points, the differences in the margins in a poll from early this month and one released today, is stunning.

In a Facebook Live discussion, today, after the poll's release, the UNO political scientist, Ed Chervenak cited the statement Fortunato made during a WDSU debate as being the real turning point in the elections. No longer is Fortunato in the lead by 16 points, instead, he is down by three, 47 to 44 percent of the vote. The major change has been the drastic switch to Lopinto by 25-34 year white Republican voters.

UPDATE SINCE POSTING ARTICLE

A University of New Orleans poll for sheriff released today places Colonel John Fortunato and Sheriff Joe Lopinto in a statistical dead heat.  

Said Fortunato, “Every expert said from the beginning that this
election would come down to turnout.  I appreciate the value of polling,
but I know the reception everywhere I go is overwhelmingly positive. Our own
tracking data has consistently shown me in the lead and still does, but we have
always believed this will be a close election. I ran because I know that my
experience is right for this position, and I believed from the start that
voters should choose the next sheriff, not a politician. This is a chance for
voters to be heard.  I hope turnout will be strong, and voters will make
their voices heard.”

Added Fortunato, “Regardless of polling data and strategies, I
will campaign aggressively until the polls close. My history and experience, my
platform to put patrols into neighborhoods, and my political independence are
the top reasons motivating my supporters to turn out and vote for me.  Our
next sheriff should be someone who has experience in every aspect of the
law.  I remain energized and confident.”

The IVR poll conducted by UNO conducted March 18 – 20 shows
Lopinto with a slight edge over Fortunato 47% to 44 % with a margin of error
near 4%.  In early March UNO showed the race at 48% to 32% in favor of
Fortunato.  Said Fortunato, “There have
been political action committees formed by out-of-state and out-of-parish
political operatives who favor my opponent that were created solely to run a
negative campaign against me. My opponent has raised and spent almost $1.5
million to my $500,000.00.  Despite all of that, every day I experience a
high level of voter enthusiasm for my candidacy and campaign.”

The IVR poll in early March polled 767 respondents.  The
recent poll included 616 respondents.

Below is an transcribed excerpt from the interview.:Watch that video segment on Facebook. Also, to watch the entire interview, click here. 

CHERVENAK

I was surprised by the magnitude of change.  That I expected, certainly the double digit gap that we had found in the earlier survey to close as a result of controversy surrounding John Fortunato's comments about supporting Mike Yenni. But it appears that that particular controversy has changed a lot of people's minds and convinced people who are undecided to move into the Joe Lopinto camp. And so that double digit lead has not only been erased but that Lopinto is now ahead in the poll. And so we've seen significant shifts based on party based on party, based on gender based on age. And so it appears that Lopinto has momentum going into Saturday's election.

SABLUDOWSKY

Wow that's really amazing. I mean it really is.

CHERVENAK

Now you know you just don't see shifts of opinion like that in very short periods of time. It's kind of stark to see that, you know, it's almost like an earthquake type shift in movement.

SABLUDOWSKY

OK so now is it fair to say that the culprit is Yenni. I mean.  I hate to put it like that, but based .

CHERVENAK

 Right right right. It seems like the, for lack of a better way of putting it, the prime suspect as the controversy behind John Fortunatus comments about Mike Yenni for saying that he  did support him and then doubling down in his text that, oh, you know he'd be able to work with him, and then flip-flopping on the issue. And so it came down to--well can you really trust this guy-- is he really have any principles or is he just kind of not in touch with the electorate. Because our polls show that more people are disapproving of Mike Yenni and his job performance than they are approving. And I haven't looked at any favorable ratings toward Yenni but I suspect he'd be under water there as well. 

So I think it's just that really just kind of shocked people and kind of it was kind and of a moment where you just saw momentum just kind of shift, just kind of feel it in the air and we were I think we were able to capture that in the poll.

UPDATE: STATEMENT FROM COL. FORTUNATO: A University of New Orleans poll for sheriff released today places Colonel John Fortunato and Sheriff Joe Lopinto in a statistical dead heat. Said Fortunato, “Every expert said from the beginning that this election would come down to turnout. I appreciate the value of polling, but I know the reception everywhere I go is overwhelmingly positive. Our own tracking data has consistently shown me in the lead and still does, but we have always believed this will be a close election. I ran because I know that my experience is right for this position, and I believed from the start that voters should choose the next sheriff, not a politician. This is a chance for voters to be heard. I hope turnout will be strong, and voters will make their voices heard.” Added Fortunato, “Regardless of polling data and strategies, I will campaign aggressively until the polls close. My history and experience, my platform to put patrols into neighborhoods, and my political independence are the top reasons motivating my supporters to turn out and vote for me. Our next sheriff should be someone who has experience in every aspect of the law. I remain energized and confident.” The IVR poll conducted by UNO conducted March 18 – 20 shows Lopinto with a slight edge over Fortunato 47% to 44 % with a margin of error near 4%. In early March UNO showed the race at 48% to 32% in favor of Fortunato. Said Fortunato, “There have been political action committees formed by out-of-state and out-of-parish political operatives who favor my opponent that were created solely to run a negative campaign against me. My opponent has raised and spent almost $1.5 million to my $500,000.00. Despite all of that, every day I experience a high level of voter enthusiasm for my candidacy and campaign.” The IVR poll in early March polled 767 respondents. The recent poll included 616 respondents.

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