The highly-anticipated U.S. Senate contest between Congressman Charlie Melancon and incumbent David Vitter is still more than a year away, but a new internal poll has surfaced that shows how the two men are stacking up. As expected, Melancon, D-Napoleonville, enters the race as the underdog, with a name-ID of only 48 percent, compared to Vitter’s statewide recognition of 86 percent. That alone is enough for the poll to put Vitter in the lead overall, 47 percent to Melancon’s 37 percent.  

The poll was actually conducted in May by D.C.-based Anzalone Liszt Research, a Melancon vendor, and distributed throughout the Democratic campaign earlier this month. While Vitter’s lead is welcomed by the GOP, pollsters John Anzalone and Jeff Liszt contend the survey offers several bright spots for Melancon. For instance, Vitter’s 47 percent lead is below the 50-threshold — “a very troubling sign for an incumbent,” they comment in a memo on the poll. 

When participants (800 likely voters) were given only positive information on the two candidates, such as party affiliation, background and future goals (about 100 words each, with Vitter listed first and no reference at all to the prostitution scandal), Melancon pulled ahead 49-41. Moreover, the poll revealed a net-negative re-elect rating for Vitter, which is a fancy way of saying that nearly half (45 percent) of the participants preferred “someone new,” as opposed to another term from Vitter.

The numbers aren’t earth-shattering and pretty much mirror the Vitter leads produced by a July poll from Public Policy Polling (44-32) and another from March by Research 2000/Daily Kos (48-41). If anything, the quasi-new poll is likely being distributed to help shore up fundraising, since it shows, like the other surveys, that the Democratic challenger has at least a fighting chance to topple the incumbent.

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