There hadn’t been any independent polling on Louisiana’s two heavily contested statewide races up until today, with the Jay Dardenne/Billy Nungesser and Tom Schedler/Jim Tucker contests for Lt. Governor and Secretary of State beginning to heat up amid uncertainty as to the favorites in each.
But a poll conducted by JMC Enterprises of Louisiana and commissioned by The Hayride shows that public perception of both races as highly competitive is correct. With three weeks to go before the October 22 primary, undecideds are a clear plurality or majority in both.
Dardenne holds a slight lead over Nungesser in the race for the state’s No. 2 elected job. The incumbent Lieutenant Governor has a two-point lead, 26-24, with 49 percent undecided.
And in the Secretary of State’s race, some 61 percent still claim to be undecided. Among those choosing a candidate Tucker holds a slight 20-19 lead over Schedler.
The poll was conducted September 29-October 1, with a sample of 902 respondents. The margin of error, with a 95% confidence interval, was 3.2%. The racial breakdown of the electorate was 71-26% white – a breakdown which closely approximates the population of likely voters as well as the electorate in the 2010 Senate race. The party registration breakdown of the respondents was 56-31% Democratic – the remaining 13% are not affiliated with a major party. The geographic breakdown of the respondents was as follows: 18% from the Baton Rouge area, 29% from the New Orleans area, 27% from Bayou/Acadiana, and 26% from North or Central Louisiana.
Dardenne’s strength in Baton Rouge, expected from the outset of the Lieutenant Governor’s race, shows up in the poll, as he currently holds a 45-20 advantage over Nungesser in the capitol region. But Nungesser’s strength lies elsewhere in the southern part of the state negates Dardenne’s advantage in Baton Rouge – he holds a 30-27 advantage in the New Orleans area and a 28-19 lead in south-central and southwest Louisiana. Dardenne leads Nungesser in central and northern Louisiana by a 20-17 margin.
Dardenne, strangely enough, leads Nungesser with Republicans (35-29) and Democrats (23-21), but loses to the Plaquemines Parish president 30-20 among independent voters. There is no clear racial lean of the vote at this time; Dardenne holds a 30-27 edge with white voters but Nungesser leads 18-16 among black respondents.
The crosstabs on the Secretary of State’s race show that there are few relative advantages with such a large undecided vote. Incumbent Tom Schedler leads Tucker, the outgoing House Speaker, by a 26-16 count in the New Orleans area but despite the former’s efforts to build a base in the I-20 corridor he trails Tucker 25-16 in the northern and central parts of the state. Tucker also manages to hold a 19-11 lead over Schedler with black voters, perhaps as an effect of the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against Louisiana alleging violations of the federal Motor Voter law requiring government offices to promote voter registration among applicants and clients. Among whites, it’s a virtual dead heat with Schedler holding a razor-thin 21-20 lead.
A full Executive Summary of the poll results can be found here (PDF).