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8.3.09

Despite contrary assertions, numbers show Vitter strength

One begins to wonder just what kind of lens through which the political world outside of Louisiana views the political life of Republican Sen. David Vitter. Ever since Vitter began to demonstrate high-profile opposition to the leftist agenda of Democrat Pres. Barack Obama and the Democrat Congress, it seems that national – and some closer to home – media take pains to run stories about his “vulnerability” to a 2010 challenge. Another example (first reported on a loony tunes hard left website which may explain it) has come forward where the template is the same – except that the content directly contradicts any notion that Vitter is in much trouble.

The rules of thumb about an incumbent who might be vulnerable to defeat (at least until a few months prior to an election when information about actual candidates becomes widely available to the public) are that he is entirely untouchable barring future major scandal if he polls at least 50 percent in any hypothetical possible matchup and gets at least 40 percent in a question about whether someone who would vote for him again and it is at least 10 percent higher than the proportion who say they will not. By these standards, a polling firm that typically contracts out to leftist organizations reveals, Vitter is borderline secure in his seat.

This poll has him defeating current U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon 48-41 percent and former and defeated Congressman Don Cazayoux 48-39. For good measure, he beats GOP Sec. of State Jay Dardenne 43-32 (presumably only Republicans were polled on that question, but the poll’s internals are not public information) in a putative GOP primary. (That he appears about as safe against a Republican challenger as against any Democrat already has been addressed.) Finally, 41 percent say they would reelect him while 27 say they would not with the remainder saying they would be willing to vote for him but consider somebody else.

As to the meaning of the roughly 40 percent that would vote for another candidate, one must always adjust that figure for the fact that, with blacks comprising 31.2 percent of the electorate, one could run a yellow dog against Vitter and the canine would be guaranteed 30 percent of the vote. This means Vitter is pulling 75 percent of the white vote already and the names mentioned got about 15 percent of it. If three-quarters of whites already are sticking with Vitter after a year’s worth of endless reminders that Vitter admitted to a “serious sin,” it’s going to be hard for any Democrat to peel off enough white support to win.

While some seemed impressed that Melancon’s gap came within the poll’s margin of error, at the same time Melancon is not a candidate and has said so (probably in part precisely because of these numbers). Vitter has a tremendous war chest, is raising money easily, and Melancon may feel he has a decent chance for his Third District to remain intact after redistricting. He said he could change his mind, which means he could jump in if Vitter’s numbers showed weakness. So far, they do not.

Nor is Cazayoux a realistic choice, as he is more interested in securing a federal district attorney’s job and after Democrats politicized debate about a president’s ability to hire and fire these officials at will in the previous administration, Cazayoux cannot even express interest in the Senate (nor would he be likely to win, being unable even to engineer his own reelection). And as far as other Democrats with any statewide name recognition, Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu also never has shown any interest, couldn’t even win in New Orleans when he ran for mayor, and surely knows enough of the public would feel uncomfortable having siblings in the Senate. Atty. Gen. Buddy Caldwell won his job just about a year ago because he was the least flawed candidate, hardly the credential to threaten Vitter.

If we weren’t already, after these guys we’re on to the second team. Former Member of Congress Chris John was blown out five years ago by Vitter and there’s little to suggest he would be much more competitive a year from now than he was then. Businessman Jim Bernhard would be an easy target for Vitter because of his associations as former head of the state Democrats and with former Gov. Kathleen Blanco who made politically everything that touched her toxic, and Vitter is one guy who could match the wealthy Bernhard dollar for dollar. And the quality of challengers goes further downhill from there.

At best, in the past year Vitter has gone from invulnerable to slightly vulnerable by these latest numbers. The only way he now can lose is if the right candidate comes along at the right time, and not only does that candidate seem unlikely to exist, but given the Obama Administration rhetoric and budgetary intentions that continue attacking America’s prosperity, early indications are 2010 is beginning to shape up as an ugly election year for Democrats and certainly not the environment to try to knock off a pretty secure incumbent like Vitter. Judgments that Vitter is in any real trouble at this time seem more indicative of wishful thinking than any valid analysis of the real world.

1 comment:

James S said...

Anybody who thinks Vitter is extremely vulnerable is either delusional or, in the case of the leftists, a liar. Sounds like wishful thinking by democrats. Blanco is making noises about running but that's just more stupidity on her part.