WWL Poll: Vitter 48, Melancon 36

A number of interesting items turn up in WWL-TV’s Senate race poll conducted Sunday and Monday by Dr. Ron Faucheux of Clarus Research, in which Sen. David Vitter remains in front of his Democrat challenger, Rep. Charlie Melancon, by a dozen points.

The poll sample Faucheux used was 600 statewide respondents, with a racial mix of 76 percent white and 24 percent black (a reasonable assumption of what the Louisiana electorate will look like in November).  He said he had to add an extra 100 Republican poll respondents to get an accurate sample for his GOP primary numbers, which indicates the original 600 probably was at least 2-to-1 Democrats and independents to Republicans. That might be a little off based on some of the early voting demographics thus far.

Faucheux also said his sample was 53 percent female, 47 percent male.

What Faucheux’s poll shows is that Vitter is getting passionate support from the state’s Republicans. He shows a 74 percent number in the GOP primary against Chet Traylor (5 percent) and Nick Accardo (3 percent), with 18 percent undecided. Vitter also has 91 percent name recognition.

Melancon, however, is not in such a strong position with the state’s Democrats. While Democrat darkhorses Neeson Chauvin and Cary Deaton combine for just 5 percent of the vote, Melancon isn’t even beating the undecideds; his total is 43 percent against 52 percent who haven’t chosen a candidate. Faucheux says the black vote has 20 percent undecided in the overall race, against only 12 percent white undecideds – an indication that Melancon has not locked up his base at all to date. While he has some time to do so and some room to grow (Melancon’s name recognition is only 68 percent), two problems are apparent. First, he has a messaging problem which has been with him from the start; the issues simply don’t break for Melancon this year and personal attacks and scandal-mongering against Vitter aren’t resonating with the voters. And second, as Faucheux’s poll shows he suffers from an intensity gap which could mean he faces an onslaught of Vitter voters on Election Day which would make poll numbers inapplicable.

A final point, which attaches to the last statement above – Faucheux’s sample is made up of registered voters, not likely voters like Rasmussen and others use. Many of the undecideds Melancon would be counting on to make up the 12-point difference might well not show up on Election Day. He hasn’t managed to make the sale on the voters he needs to mount a real challenge to his Republican opponent.

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