It turns out that SOS might be a very good acronym for Secretary of State in Louisiana given how that race is shaping up, something we’ll get to below, but a new poll just out from the Trafalgar Group on the Louisiana gubernatorial and Secretary of State races confirms what we’ve seen all along. Which is that we’re headed for a Jeff Landry-Shawn Wilson runoff, and there isn’t really any movement toward a different result.
Trafalgar returned 1,062 responses to the poll between September 11 and September 15, and the survey results have a 2.9 percent margin of error. The sample for the poll is 63.4 percent white and 29 percent black, which is a fairly likely match to what’s expected will be the primary turnout (though the 29 percent might be on the high side given the lack of interest among Democrats).
And here’s the governor’s race, according to the survey…
Combine this poll result with those of the Nexstar Media survey and the Ron Faucheux poll commissioned by the Advocate and those other media outlets in advance of the first televised debate, and it mostly confirms the conventional wisdom. Landry is anywhere between 36 and 40 percent, and he has a spot in the runoff. This poll has him at essentially 38 percent.
And Wilson at 23 percent is running very poorly as the only major Democrat candidate in the race.
At this point, there would be a possibility of John Schroder, Stephen Waguespack or Hunter Lundy catching fire and perhaps even challenging Wilson for the second spot in the runoff. But they’re all in a crabs-in-a-bucket death struggle, and none of them seem to be able to get a hand up on each other.
Waguespack has an affiliated PAC, the Louisiana Leadership Fund, which is now running ads bashing Landry over a three-year-old Advocate hit piece accusing Landry’s staffing company of hiring illegal Mexicans to work construction at an LNG plant in Cameron, but it’s a weak attack which didn’t make any particular waves when the Advocate ran it – mostly because it’s based on the word of a general contractor (Landry’s company was a subcontractor on the project) who in fact is in federal prison for…hiring illegals.
The question is why Team Waguespack is attacking Landry rather than Schroder, Lundy, Sharon Hewitt or Richard Nelson – or even Wilson. Strategically, you’d think his best play would be to consolidate the non-Landry Republican vote and try to siphon off some Democrats to climb above Wilson into the runoff, and then hammer Landry with whatever he can when it’s a head to head race. Schroder at least attacked both Landry and Waguespack, essentially calling them crooks, in the latest ad he’s running.
We just don’t see the dynamics changing before Oct. 14. Maybe something will come along to change them, but at this point that would be a surprise.
But the SOS race – and it might well be an SOS – is a lot more fluid. Here’s what Trafalgar found there…
This is one crazy race, and there are lots of people on the conservative side and within the LAGOP hierarchy who are having heartburn over it.
Obviously, having Clay Schexnayder as the top-polling Republican is completely unacceptable. You’d think that among the 40 percent undecided there are likely very few who would go for Schexnayder, and his 11.4 percent is fairly close to his ceiling.
Though Schexnayder has a TV ad going up this week which paints him as a man of integrity and honesty, something most of the legislators who have served with him would scoff at fairly loudly.
But the problem is that Mike Francis’ campaign is just sitting there. When Francis entered the race it was assumed that he’d drop a big pile of money from his own fortune into his campaign and simply buy the race. So far he hasn’t really done that, and unless it’s a last-minute deluge of spending we don’t know if Francis’ support will take off. He’s qualified for the job in ways Schexnayder certainly is not, having chaired the LAGOP through several election cycles and having served on the Public Service Commission, whose regulatory duties are at least as intricate as those the Secretary of State has on his or her plate.
Some of the smart money is beginning to look at Nancy Landry, who’s right behind Schexnayder and who is raising more money lately than any of the contenders. She’s something of a de-facto incumbent, as she’s currently serving as the assistant secretary under the outgoing Kyle Ardoin, and she comes from a solid conservative background as a three-term state legislator from Lafayette before her current job.
But the real heartburn is with former Orleans Parish Clerk of Criminal Court Arthur Morrell, who is hanging around at 5.8 percent. Morrell, the word has it, is a likely beneficiary of some George Soros-style street money to be poured into the black community in New Orleans, which would turn out a chunk of votes not currently picked up in the Trafalgar poll and could potentially vault him into the runoff with Gwen Collins-Greenup.
That seems like a wild scenario, but if the Republican vote is split five ways between Schexnayder, Landry, Francis, Thomas Kennedy and Brandon Trosclair and nobody emerges from that pack, it isn’t impossible.
So you have two bad scenarios – one being a Schexnayder/Collins-Greenup runoff, and the other being a Collins-Greenup/Morrell runoff. Neither can be completely dismissed as yet, and both would result in an unacceptable situation for the next four years.