A new survey of Louisiana voters from polling firm Rasmussen Reports shows Louisiana's incumbent Republican Sen. David Vitter holding a steady lead over his Democratic rival Charlie Melancon. The telephone survey showed 53 percent of likely voters in the state favoring Vitter in the upcoming fall election, with 35 percent opting for Melancon and nine percent undecided.

The results are similar to other surveys conducted by Rasmussen throughout the year, in which Vitter's support has ranged between 52 and 57 percent and Melancon's has hovered right around 35 percent. This contradicts a poll recently released by Democratic Polling company Public PolicyPolling which showed Vitter's lead sliding to a nine point margin, 46 percent to 37 percent (Rasmussen is independent but has close ties to the Republican Party).

Rasmussen's poll shows Vitter leading by nearly 30 points among male voters and by a more modest 11 points among women (Melancon's camp has targeted women voters as being key to its victory).  Rasmussen notes the survey was taken after news broke that a longtime Vitter aide had pled guilty to attacking an ex-girlfriend with a knife, a revelation some speculated might hurt the Republican’s campaign.

In other revelations, the poll showed Louisiana having one of the highest percentage of tea party activists in the nation, with 31 percent of voters identifying themselves as members of the movement.

The survey of 500 Likely Voters in Louisiana was conducted on June 24, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See the polling methodology here.

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