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Delay helps Landrieu little, but may turn out decisive

It’s true that perhaps the only person who benefitted from Hurricane Gustav was Sen. Mary Landrieu. But just a little bit, even if that little bit might go a long way.

Gustav’s coming did interject a pause into the contest for U.S. Senate in Louisiana as the Democrat aims to hang onto the seat against a formidable challenge by Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy. It’s not so much incumbents who get favored by campaigning forced to cease temporarily, but those who lead those races, and in all cases in all races in the state incumbents, even if narrowly, would appear to be doing that with the probable exception of Rep. Don Cazayoux’s troubled bid for a full term.

As explained previously, those who are behind in contests want campaigning to go on as long as possible, so they (usually challengers where there are no open seats) have more time to catch up. But the only meaningful contests this cycle, except for the two mentioned above, in the state are for open seats so realistic challengers were not only not advantaged by the prospect of extra time but also because no realistic challengers were in a position to take advantage of delays because the nature of their party primaries were uncontested so that the general election still would be held on Nov. 4; only general elections which feature open seats would likely be pushed back to Dec. 6.

The Senate race with no party primary challenges will not be delayed. With Kennedy trailing to a small degree according to the few impartial (and, admittedly, small sampled) polls about the race, having a few days taken away for campaigning won’t help him.

But just as Landrieu got lucky with the involuntary curtailment, Kennedy did with its timing if there was going to have to be a break. Gustav began to dominate attention right when another event would have done the same – first the Democrats’, the then Republicans’ national conventions, especially filled with drama as vice presidential nominees were chosen only on the eves of them. Campaigning for lower-level offices to win the general election usually is ineffective during these two weeks, with so much potential voters’ interests elsewhere politically.

That situation typically lasts a week or two after the conventions as many voters finally begin to pay attention to and to make up their minds about the presidential vote. For most, only after that most important decision will they begin to concentrate on other contests. Thus, if Kennedy had to have suffered campaign postponement, the best time for it to have happened was when campaigning would have been at its least effective anyways, as it did.

So the net boost for Landrieu is small. Still, in a race appearing to be very close, that could be the difference. Luck boosted her into office in her two previous runs and it could play a decisive role yet again to her benefit.

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