A few short months ago, conventional wisdom held that if Sen. David Vitter were to attract any significant opposition in the Republican primary, he would be in a weakened position going into the general election. In fact, after trouncing two Republican opponents last weekend, Vitter is looking stronger than ever.

His general election opponent, Democrat Charlie Melancon, also cruised to primary victory over two token opponents on Saturday, but not by as wide a margin as Vitter. Vitter beat Melancon in both percentages and shear number of votes on Saturday (85,179 to Melancon's 77,702). The one positive sign for Melancon is that overall more people voted in the Democratic primary, which had 110,051 voters compared to 97,238 in the Republican primary. (Independents are allowed to vote in the Democratic primary but not the Republican primary.)

Both Republicans and Democrats had their numbers slightly boosted by one hotly contested primary — the Democratic primary in New Orleans' 2nd Congressional District and the Republican primary in southeast Louisiana's 3rd District — but overall, turnout was dismal, especially for Democrats. Republican turnout in the Senate race was 12.8 percent, compared with the 5.1 percent of eligible voters who took part in the Democratic primary. Overall, just 7.1 percent of Louisiana voters participated in the Senate primaries.

Nationally, Republicans are far outpacing Democrats in voter enthusiasm. National pollster Gallup yesterday released numbers showing Republicans with a 10-point national lead over Democrats for this year's midterm elections — the largest GOP lead in Gallup's history of tracking the generic ballot, which dates back to 1942.

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