Election Notebook, July 22 Edition

In this episode – dueling Senate polls, no hookup for Traylor and the curious case of Joseph Cao.

WHO YOU GONNA BELIEVE? The Melancon campaign is crowing about a new poll they conducted which has their candidate within the margin of error, while another poll conducted for the National Republican Senatorial Committee says incumbent David Vitter maintains the same sizable lead he’s held throughout the race.

Melancon’s campaign uses Anzalone-Liszt for their polling, and this is not the first time they’ve come back with results which don’t track with independent polls on the Senate race. That firm has a reputation for fairly aggressive push-polling, leading to results which don’t particularly help the Democrat candidates and politicians who use them. A perfect example was the poll Anzalone released last year on health care, which led Democrats like Mary Landrieu to run around claiming that Americans were behind every aspect of Obamacare before voting for it.

In any event, according to the pollster Melancon has now pulled to within 44-43 of Vitter. That one-point margin shows some movement from a February release which had the challenger down 10 points. Anzalone said the poll was of 800 likely voters with a 3.5 percent margin of error.

Contrast those findings with those of the NRSC poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, which has Vitter leading Melancon by a 48-31 margin. Vitter leads the Congressman by 53-33 among the respondents who considered themselves most likely to vote. The sample size of the NRSC poll was 600 respondents.

The 17-point margin of the Public Opinion Strategies poll is pretty similar to a Rasmussen poll released June 29 which had Vitter ahead 53-35.

Vitter spokesman Luke Bolar was fairly dismissive of the Anzalone poll: “We already know Melancon bought and is using Hillary Clinton’s email list, so it’s no surprise he called Barack Obama’s donor list for this poll – but, it is a surprise how competive our campaign is on that list.”

TRAYLOR CONTINUES ROUGH PRESS: Following Monday’s Monroe News-Star story which laid out the morals charges of Vitter’s Republican challenger Chet Traylor, the reaction around the country has been pretty tough. While the previous narrative was that the former state Supreme Court justice could be an interesting challenger in the GOP primary, it seems the wagosphere is aiming to discard the Traylor candidacy now.

Take this from blogger Bill Pascoe, for example:

Over the course of my career in politics, I’ve run across candidates who were believed to be harboring secrets about their sex lives. To a man, they all seemed to think they were invulnerable — that is, they believed no one would find out. Being found out, they apparently believed, was for other candidates.

Some apparently believe that cuckolded husbands are so embarrassed by the episode, feeling that it is somehow their fault, that they will remain silent, and no one will be the wiser.

Moreover, in the case of Traylor’s paramours, there is a he said/he said element to the story. Traylor simply denies the timeline laid out by the senior Ellington.

So I can understand how Traylor could make the calculation that it was okay to go forward with a challenge to Vitter on the morality front. The Ellington men, he might have reasoned, would probably keep their mouths shut, and if they kept their mouths shut, no one would ever know.

It was a bad calculation, a wrong calculation, but understandable, if we presume Traylor falls into that camp who believes they are invulnerable.

What I cannot understand is how he thought news of the lawsuit filed against him would remain a secret.

He’s a former judge, for goodness’ sake. He knows lawsuits are public documents. And he knows there are reporters who do nothing but hang around the courthouse all day, waiting to see who files suit against whom.

And if he had any brains at all, he’d know that the moment he announced his challenge, the first thing a good editor would do is make sure his courthouse reporter scoured the files to see if he’d been on the receiving end of any lawsuits.

So by any reasonable assessment, it was clear the lawsuit filed by Ryan Ellington would become public knowledge in a matter of days, if not hours. And what do reporters do when they get their hands on a lawsuit? They call the guy who filed him to get background information.

Is it possible Chet Traylor believed a reporter could call his stepson and not learn of his affair with his stepson’s wife? And is it possible Traylor could believe his stepson’s claims would not lead to an interview with the stepson’s father?

Louisiana’s GOP voters may not care about Traylor’s moral lapses, if there are any. But they’re likely to care a good deal about his poor judgment.

Game over.

No  polling data is out on the GOP primary, and we won’t likely have any fundraising numbers to look at from Traylor’s campaign before the primary. But it seems like Pascoe, whose take is similar to that of the Times-Picayune’s Stephanie Grace, is right; Traylor isn’t a threat to Vitter at this point.

According to the Advocate, the lawsuit  the maybe-cuckolded Ellingtons have filed against Traylor goes to court Aug. 2. It’s hard to imagine how the public-relations nightmare the former justice has unleashed on himself will improve by what comes out of the courtroom.

CAO GETS SHOUT-OUT FROM OBAMA: It will be interesting if 2nd District Congressman Joseph Cao gets any benefit from his “yes” vote on President Obama’s financial regulation bill, or what effect Obama’s recognition of that fact today might have on the sometimes-wayward Republican’s tough re-election campaign. Seeing as though Cao is likely to get some three-quarters of the non-African American vote, which makes up 36 percent of the district’s population but probably more like 45 percent of the electorate on Nov. 2, the race is likely to be fought in the black community – and Cao needs some 30 percent of that vote to win.

A shout-out from President Obama today can’t hurt, even though it undoubtedly infuriates Cao’s base of voters who won’t like the financial regulation bill any more than they like Obama. But since those voters don’t really have an option and since they’re likely to turn out pretty heavily to vote in the Senate and Lieutenant Governor races, meaning they’ll already be at the polls, Cao probably finds himself in the bizarre position of being a Republican whose political future depends on abandoning his voters on an important issue.

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