Most voters don’t know much about the candidates for lieutenant governor, but of those who do, they’re backing Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden and former Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser to progress to the runoff, according to the Florida-based Market Research Insight pollster.
In the governor’s race, the same poll, paid for by Nungesser, showed U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-Metairie, leads the pack with 24 percent. Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, R-Breaux Bridge, and Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards, of Amite, each has 21 percent of the support.
The results fall within the 4.1 percent margin of error. Pollsters questioned 600 registered voters Monday through Wednesday last week. Verne Kennedy of Market Research Insight said the poll has 95 percent level of confidence.
Holden is the only Democrat facing three Republicans in the race for the second highest-ranking job in state government.
Nungesser was known to 58 percent of those surveyed – the highest among the four candidates. He had national visibility during Hurricane Katrina and the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and had run for lieutenant governor in 2011.
Holden has been mayor-president of East Baton Rouge, the state’s largest parish, for the past decade and in public office since 1988. He has 80 percent name recognition in the Baton Rouge metropolitan area, but only 43 percent statewide.
Jefferson Parish President John Young has run the state’s second largest parish since 2010 and served in the parish council as well as district attorney since 1997. He was known to 57 percent of the voters in the New Orleans area and 43 percent of those statewide.
State Sen. Elbert Guillory, of Opelousas, gained a measure of fame on the national conservative talk show circuit from his videos criticizing the Democratic Party and former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu. But two-thirds of the voters in the survey were unaware of him.
When asked if the election were held today, Holden received 23 percent of the vote and Nungesser picked up 20 percent. Young had 9 percent and Guillory scored 8 percent, according to the statewide survey.
The big winner, however, was “not sure,” at 41 percent.
Young launched a statewide television ad campaign a couple weeks ago, aimed at introducing himself to Louisiana voters. The total ad buy is $1.8 million for both broadcast and cable, Young’s campaign reported.
The first ad went on air Tuesday morning. “We will have different ads, but we will stay on TV through Oct. 24,” Young said, referring to the primary election date.
Kennedy said Holden likely made it into the runoff because he’s the only Democrat. Thirty-six percent of the black voters and 17 percent of the whites – more than Young’s 10 percent of the white vote – backed Holden.
Nungesser had the strongest showing among whites, 23 percent, and voters between the ages of 55 to 64, 25 percent.
The poll also took a snapshot of the gubernatorial election.
The lead flipped from the results of a survey released by the same firm last month, which was intensely criticized by Vitter.
Asked if the election were today, Vitter would have received 24 percent, including those leaning to the senior U.S. senator, according to the survey. Angelle follows with 21 percent, as does Edwards. Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, R-Baton Rouge, trails with 13 percent, according to the poll released Tuesday.
Kennedy said Angelle’s surge is partially due to his aggressive advertising campaign and is partially a product of those voters who are hesitant about Vitter, who has very high unfavorable numbers, and have become aware of another acceptable Republican.
Whether Vitter or Angelle or even Dardenne make the Nov. 21 runoff is still up in the air, Kennedy said. But Edwards surely be one of the two finalists after the Oct. 24 primary, he said.
When the results are weighted to take into account historical voting patters – attributing 90 percent of the African-American vote to the Democratic candidate and distributing the remaining 10 percent among the GOP candidates based on each candidate’s past performance, Edwards leads with 35 percent of the total vote, followed by Vitter with 22 percent, Angelle with 19 percent and Dardenne with 11 percent, according to Kennedy.