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Tuesday, 07 November 2017 18:08

Cantrell 18-point lead over Charbonnet SHOCK, Bye Louisiana Treasurer's Race?

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shocked pollSurprised? Indeed. Well, how about, somewhat shocked!

This morning, I discovered that LaToya Cantrell is ahead of Desiree Charbonnet by a whopping 18 points, according to a research firm LJR Custom Strategies on behalf of the local branch of a national education reform organization, Democrats for Education Reform.

According to, Cantrell, who led by 9 points on primary election day a few weeks ago has taken an overwhelming 18-point lead. This surge would be an amazing feat considering she has taken a beating from media stories and from Cantrell’s opponent, Desiree Charbonnet.over the credit card controversy, turned scandal.  

If the poll, is, in fact, accurate, it could send shockwaves throughout the city and statewide electorate and among political observers and of course, let's include the media. It also could be the "proverbial nail in the coffin" of the Derrick Edwards campaign aspirations, which is fighting an uphill battle for Louisiana Treasurer against Republican John Schroder (the nail remark will be explained later).

As per NOLA:

“Cantrell, a sitting city councilwoman, was 18 points ahead, 44 percent to Charbonnet's 26 percent, when the polling concluded Nov. 2. The survey began Oct. 24 with plans to target 600 likely voters, but the research firm LJR Custom Strategies added another 400 after news broke about Cantrell's spending.

The survey had a 3-point margin of error. The first 600 participants were asked questions Oct. 24 through Oct. 26 about the mayor's race and New Orleans' education system. After the credit card controversy became public, another 400 voters were polled just about the mayor's race. The survey concluded Nov. 2.

After reading the article, I dispatched a letter to the Charbonnet campaign to get its position on the poll.

Then, during my weekly Tuesday morning appearance on Jeff Crouere’s radio talk show on WGNO 990 AM, I discussed the results. I noted that I found it somewhat strange that out of all of the people and organizations who would be polling this race, the only survey made public so far during the runoff season would come from a statewide advocacy organization dealing with Education. After all, education, while absolutely critical for the survival of the City of New Orleans is not run by the New Orleans Mayor, but the School Board and according to the NOLA article, there is not much space between Cantrell and Charbonnet on the education issue.

After the radio show, I read the email response from the Charbonnet campaign. 

That response from Kevin Stuart said, “With the recent revelations of Cantrell’s illegal use of the city credit card, our internal numbers show the race tightening substantially. It’s no surprise that a group closely aligned with Leslie Jacobs and Latoya Cantrell has publicized numbers that say something different, but their methodology is faulty and, to put it simply, their numbers are wrong. “

Leslie Jacobs is a major contributor to the anti-Charbonnet candidacy Super PAC, According to reports released a week prior to the election, she has contributed a whopping $40,000 to the anti-Charbonnet cause.  Perhaps it might be more since the release date roughly ten days prior to general election day.

Jacobs is a Democrat and a former candidate for New Orleans Mayor. She has been one of the leading forces for education reform in Louisiana which includes advocating charter schools. Democrats for Education Reform also supports charter schools, which has not been a burning issue for the Democratic Party, and, in fact, the Democrats, in general, have been staunch opponents of charter schools. 

in fairness,  have found no document or contribution showing any relationship between Jacobs and the Democrats for Education Reform, thus, cannot confirm any connection between Jacobs, a very strong opponent to the Charbonnet campaign and this poll   Again, if accurate, the poll might help cement the mayoral campaign mindset going into the elections.  Campaign funding often goes with the candidate with the big 'Mo, and surely, an 18-point lead would push that momentum train into top gear. 

Indeed Cantrell has picked up major endorsements since primary election day, including from the two top losing candidates, Michael Bagneris and Troy Henry. Still, the conventional wisdom, I would have thought, based upon all of the controversy related to the credit card scandal, might have cut into Cantrell’s lead. I surely have not expected it to make little or no difference. I absolutely would not have expected an 18-point Cantrell lead.

Keep in mind, as we know, especially during this era of Trump, polls don’t dictate the end-results. Two respected pollsters were off the mark prior to the October's primary election. Verne Kennedy of MRI (Media Research Institute) whose gubernatorial poll were the closest to the final tally, showed Michael Bagneris with 33 percent of the vote with a six to a seven-point lead over Cantrell and Charbonnet. Another poll, this one closer to election day, commissioned by The Advocate and WWL TV and conducted by Ron Faucheux, had Bagneris at 19 percent. The Judge indeed ended up with 19 percent.  Faucheux’s poll also found Cantrell and Charbonnet bunched up with Cantrell leading Charbonnet, by 1 point, 27 to 26 percent. Kennedy’s poll which was publicly released and paid for by private business persons said Charbonnet was coming in second with 30 percent, Cantrell, third with 23 percent.

The Charbonnet campaign will need to release its internal results or wait for another poll to be made public to offset the now-public assumption that Cantrell has taken a commanding lead, despite the credit card controversy which filled the airwaves.

Now, I know you've been waiting at the edge of your chair, so, let's talk about the poll and its impact upon the Louisiana Treasurer’s race: As mentioned on various occasions on Bayoubuzz and elsewhere, many have speculated that a very strong Orleans Parish turnout and a weak statewide count could result in a major upset of upsets. The thinking has been that Republicans and whites would not bother to vote at all since, in many parishes, nothing major, other than the treasurer's race is on the ballot. Otherwise, the notion that Democrat Edwards would defeat Republican former member of the House of Representatives, John Schroder, would be pure fantasy in a state, redder than conservative red.

However, it seems, John Couvillon of JMC Analytics has strongly debunked that possibility, as we republished yesterday on Bayoubuzz.

Going even further into “what if” mode, a turnout increase of 50% in Orleans Parish and a 72% turnout decrease in the other 63 parishes would only get Edwards up to 45% without a single vote from those who voted for Neil Riser or Angele Davis. The only remotely possible combination that would get Edwards to 50% on November 18 would be a combination of all of the following: (1) 50% turnout increase in Orleans Parish, (2) 72% decrease in turnout in the other 63 parishes, (3) Edwards receiving 58% of the Riser vote in Orleans Parish (Riser invested heavily in that one, heavily Democratic parish in the primary), and (4) Edwards receiving 58% of the Davis vote in East Baton Rouge Parish (Davis had good name recognition there from her extensive state government experience, combined with the fact that East Baton Rouge Parish Republican voters are more moderate – by today’s standard).

So, now--why would the New Orleans Mayor’s race poll be the final nail in that coffin?

In my opinion, a large almost insurmountable lead in the New Orleans Mayor’s race would suppress voter turnout in New Orleans. A tight race would absolutely result in a much larger turnout. A flaccid turnout in New Orleans virtually guarantees a Schroder win.

New Orleans Mayor's Race

As political races always seem to go, speculation is a cheap commodity--which might describe my response to what I consider to be a somewhat shocking poll giving Cantrell this 18-point lead.  And, surely, projecting the Louisiana treasurer's race-based upon that poll seems absolutely silly. 

We know to a certainty, speculation and polls are often wrong.

Which is why the spin is in until the election day wash cycle completes.

Until then, something tells me, we have not heard the end of the discussion over that 18-point Cantrell lead.

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