PPP Gives Cassidy A Slight Lead; Landrieu’s Attack Ads Don’t Seem To Be Working

The numbers:

Landrieu 42%
Cassidy 34%
Maness 12%

But when you get a head-to-head race between Cassidy and Landrieu, her ceiling appears to kick in…

Cassidy 48%
Landrieu 45%

She only picks up three points in the runoff. That’s consistent with other polling that shows her in the high 30’s to low 40’s in the primary and the mid 40’s in the runoff.

Back in June, PPP polled the head-to-head as a 47-47 tie. That was one of Landrieu’s best showings in recent polls. From RCP…

rcp 9-29-14

That doesn’t count the PPP poll, obviously, but as you’ll see she’s hit 47 only once since the PPP poll in June – and that was the CNN poll from last week we talked about yesterday which put Cassidy at 50.

Landrieu’s camp would point to PPP and CNN as evidence that she’s rebounding from early September when, rocked by the revelations about her illegal campaign travel billings, she became more embattled than at any other time in the race. You can buy that if you want, but while it might have some validity it should also be pointed out that the trend in these polls seems to be that Cassidy’s runoff support is building. He was at or over 50 in both the CNN poll and the Fox News poll, and PPP – which is a Democrat outfit, it must be remembered – has him at 48.

And perhaps the biggest takeaway is that the attack ads by Landrieu’s campaign and her allies – which have been voluminous and some of the most bitter and vicious in political memory – don’t seem to have had much effect on the electorate. From PPP’s release

Neither candidate is very popular with voters. 37% of voters have a favorable opinion of Cassidy to 41% with an unfavorable opinion, numbers that while poor are actually slightly improved from a -8 net favorability rating on the previous poll at 28/36. Landrieu’s approval numbers are worse though- 42% give her good marks to 52% who disapprove. Those numbers are identical to what they were in late June.

Since the end of June, between Landrieu’s campaign, Harry Reid’s Senate Majority PAC and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee there has been some $3-4 million in attack ads run against Cassidy. And with that money, applied against a candidate who was largely unknown around the state (Cassidy had a 36 percent “no opinion,” which was a huge number for a statewide candidate, back in June), they were only able to move his unfavorables five points while he was able to move his favorables nine points. That’s not exactly an example of Landrieu and Reid getting their money’s worth.

Something else interesting from the PPP poll…

There has been a lot of speculation about how turnout might influence the dynamics in a December runoff election, and on that front we find something that is at least a little disturbing for Democrats. 89% of likely voters for November also say that they will definitely vote in a runoff election if there is one. Among those voters Cassidy’s lead expands to 50/45. Among the 11% of voters who say just they will probably vote, that the chances are 50/50, or that they will probably not vote Landrieu leads by 13 points at 40/27. Making sure those folks actually come back out in December will be key to her chances.

The money the Democrats are going to put on the street for the runoff in get-out-the-vote efforts is going to be unprecedented, and any efforts to police the inherent fraud that GOTV campaign generates will be called every name in the book. You will hear nothing but “voter suppression” and “racism” from Election Day to the runoff, and if Cassidy manages to win with less than, say, 52 percent of the vote do not be surprised to see the Justice Department attempting to smear the Louisiana GOP by opening an investigation. This, amid lots of stories about rampant fraud in the usual precincts, is what we have to look forward to should the race be close.

Two more things from the PPP release about the Senate race…

Cassidy leads Landrieu in the runoff based on two key things: he leads with independents at 46/37, and he is also winning over 18% of Democrats compared to the 13% of Republicans Landrieu is getting. This race features about as large of a racial divide as we ever see- Cassidy is up 68/24 with white voters, while Landrieu leads 89/7 with African Americans.

On a lighter note Landrieu’s well publicized efforts to help an LSU student with a keg stand at a football game are not part of her problem. 61% of voters in the state either say they approved of Landrieu doing that or that they don’t care, compared to only 36% who express disapproval.

So what about the sample of the PPP poll? It’s 64 percent white, 30 percent black – which might be a bit optimistic for Landrieu. The party ID of the sample is 43 percent Democrat, 39 percent Republican – and we always scrutinize how the party ID is arrived at since voter registration in the state doesn’t correlate all that strongly to party ID. PPP asked it this way…

If you are a Democrat, press 1. If a Republican,  press 2. If you are an independent or identify with another party, press 3.

So if you’re a registered Democrat who never votes Democrat anymore, you’d probably still press 1.

Other things in the PPP poll…

– David Vitter still appears to be the next governor. Vitter leads John Bel Edwards 50-32, Mitch Landrieu 47-38 and Jay Dardenne 37-30. There have been other polls showing Vitter in an even-money race with Landrieu, but this one no only has him with a nine-point lead but also dangerously close to 50. Dardenne still looks like the toughest potential opponent for the Senator, whose approval rating of 46-35 is pretty good considering how much abuse he gets from the other side (and even a lot of Republicans).

– Dardenne would beat Edwards 44-30 and Landrieu 43-39.

– PPP makes a big deal about finding that Louisianans support Medicaid expansion by a 56-31 margin. But check out how they asked the question

Louisiana is eligible to receive new federal  funding to pay for health care through the Medicaid program. Do you think the Louisiana state government should accept this federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage, or not?

“Should Louisiana take free money for Uncle Sam, or not?” Of course Medicaid expansion polls well if the question is asked that way.

– Finally, Bobby Jindal might be working on a presidential run, but if that means he’s largely written off his governorship of Louisiana the feeling is mutual. The voters in this state have taken note of Jindal’s disengagement and disengaged from Jindal in turn. PPP’s results are ugly for the Governor; he’s got an approval rating completely upside down at 34-55, he’s down 20-68 on the question of whether he ought to run in 2016 and – typical of the way PPP does business, they find a 47-43 result in a hypothetical matchup between Jindal and Edwin Edwards for governor. He’s not taking care of his business, and he’s getting popped by the voters as a result.

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