The take then was that Maness, a fairly unknown Republican, was peeling votes off U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, a Republican too, in his bid to unseat Sen. Mary Landrieu. An old-school Democrat from New Orleans, Landrieu is seeking a fourth term in the Senate. The primary election is Nov. 4. A run-off, if necessary, will be held Dec. 6.
Nothing has changed since mid-July, including Maness’ presence in the race as well as my heartfelt opinion that Maness is the only thing stopping Cassidy from unseating Landrieu in November. Which party controls the U.S. Senate beginning in January could be at stake, too.
Three recent polls — one conducted by the liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling, one by Opinion Research for CNN and one by Anderson Robbins Research/Shaw & Company Research for Fox News — clearly showed Cassidy would outdistance Landrieu in the November primary if Maness wasn’t on the ballot. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Maness is the Ross Perot of this Senate race, an affectionate nod to the Texas billionaire who cost George H.W. Bush the presidency in 1992.
According to the poll by PPP, Maness would pull 12 percent of likely voters in the Nov. 4 election. Landrieu would run first with 42 percent while Cassidy would account for 34 percent. In a hypothetical run-off in December, Cassidy would rise to 48 percent among likely voters and Landrieu would pick up about three points to level out at 45 percent of the vote. Some 7 percent were undecided if faced with a choice between Cassidy and Landrieu.
In the Opinion Research poll conducted for CNN, which included a hodge-podge of likely voters and your run-of-the-mill registered voters, Maness would tally 9 percent of the vote in November to Cassidy’s 40 percent and Landrieu’s 43 percent. In a December run-off, Cassidy would break the all-important 50 percent barrier while Landrieu would top out at 47 percent. Some 3 percent were undecided.
The Anderson Robbins/Shaw & Company poll for Fox News painted the rosiest of pictures for Cassidy. Conducted some two weeks ago, the poll found that Maness would garner some 7 percent of the vote in the November primary. Cassidy would actually run first with 35 percent and Landrieu would secure 31 percent of the vote. In a head-to-head bout in a December run-off, Cassidy held a comfortable lead with 51 percent of the vote to 38 percent for Landrieu. Some 9 percent were undecided.
Anderson Robbins/Shaw & Company polled likely voters only, which, regardless of your political leanings, is the only sample that truly matters in polling. Think about it. Why poll someone who has no intentions of voting on election day?
While these polls and others suggest Landrieu is in danger of losing her Senate seat, one would be wise not to discount Landrieu’s effectiveness on the campaign trail. She’s well seasoned, and she has an innate ability to connect with voters in a personal setting.
And there’s the African-American vote in Louisiana. It’s very difficult to poll African-Americans. Reasons vary, including a reluctance among African-Americans to speak freely on the telephone with someone they don’t know.
It goes without saying that in Louisiana you should always add 3 percent to any percentage a Democrat pulls in any poll in a head-to-head matchup with a Republican. If that still holds true, Landrieu is by no means out of the picture just yet.
Still, October has arrived. Election day is a little more than a month away. We’re being bombarded on television with one negative ad after another about these candidates and their voting records.
Rest easy, though. It’s only going to get worse.
Sam Hanna Jr. is publisher of The Ouachita Citizen, and he serves in an editorial/management capacity with The Concordia Sentinel and The Franklin Sun, three newspapers owned and operated by the Hanna family. Hanna can be reached by calling (318) 805-8158 or by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.