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Coming Landrieu win likely to create consternation

It’s nice the see the “Between the Lines Echo Effect” resonating again, as a number of pollsters and pundits are coming to realize that during the Apr. 22 mayoral election in New Orleans a majority of voters in the parish’s booths likely will be black and overall turnout probably will be around 55 percent black. With the help of a recently-released, if slightly dated, poll, it now appears the general election runoff will feature black Democrat incumbent Mayor Ray Nagin and white Democrat Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu.

Adjusting numbers from the polls to fit the 55 percent black ratio, and not apportioning the undecided voters, Landrieu would have a slim lead of 26.7 percent, Nagin right behind at 26.6 percent, nonprofit executive Democrat Ron Forman trailing at 14.9 percent, and the only other candidate showing non-negligible numbers being lawyer Republican Ron Couhig at 6.5 percent. Only two other names were floated, former city councilwoman Republican Peggy Wilson and community activist Democrat Tom Watson.

Two things of note can be drawn from this. First, with 78 percent of the vote apportioned, only Forman has a chance to make a runoff spot other than Nagin and Landrieu but, second, he is a long shot to do it. Even if every single white voter yet undecided went with Forman, he still would fall short, and the reality of the situation is, of the estimated 28 percent of black voters (adjusted to the 55/45 ratio) undecided, the majority are going either with Nagin or Landrieu.

And if these two make the runoff, Landrieu holds the winning hand at the current ratios. If he could then hold Nagin to 15 percent of the white vote (Nagin has only 10 percent now) and 70 percent of the black vote (he has 28 percent of that already), he will eke out a six-point win at historical participation levels. These numbers are what continue to drive some black Democrats in the Legislature to insist on watering down ballot security measures, to make it easier to get absentee ballots to displaced black voters in the hopes that enough get returned allegedly marked by registered voters in Orleans.

If Landrieu does lead Nagin after the primary, look for these efforts to intensify, as well as legal appeals along the same lines, until shortly before the May 20 general election date.

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