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Jones waits on Bradley, Glover for Shreveport mayor's runoff

We get a look at the “Between the Lines echo effect” again with another poll released by the Shreveport Times, confirming the trends articulated and predicted here last month.

Perhaps most notable about the results here is, frankly, just how poorly this poll is tapping into vote intentions. Undecided voters going up? Almost every candidate losing support? Combine these oddities with the fact that a couple of weeks out from the primary election a third of the electorate, with almost half of blacks, remain undecided, these results tell us either we are seeing a once-in-a-lifetime contest, or people just aren’t responding well to this polling.

(This explanation certainly is more valid than the one offered by the pollster, who claimed it was an artifact of “negative” campaigning. That guess defies much of what we know about the impact of political campaigns; typically, undecided respondents’ numbers drop, particularly this close to an election – and in one where there was little negative advertising up to the time of the polling. It was unusual to have a third undecided almost a month ago; it’s incredible to have even more undecided only days away from the contest. A far more plausible explanation is that many prior, older responses were given only on the basis of name recognition and did not indicate any real intention of future voting, which is especially apparent among black respondents. It’s only now, reflected in the results of this poll, that you are registering serious vote intentions.)

Let’s do assume for the moment that we do have a good poll (meaning the sample does in fact represent the views of the population polled; a standard in the industry is that one out of twenty times it won’t). If so, what was predicted in this space last month is coming to pass; specifically:

  • Republican former city attorney Jerry Jones is cruising to a spot in the general election runoff and is the favorite to win that, although that depends on his competition there.
  • State Sen. Max Malone, also a Republican, simply started campaigning too late. He will draw much more of the vote than what he is polling (2 percent), but not enough to make the runoff
  • As more people pay attention to the campaign and as more information comes out, Democrat former city spokeswoman Liz Swaine is going nowhere, if not losing ground. It’s almost lights out now for Swaine, because the results suggest she hasn’t made enough inroads with white voters to challenge for a runoff spot and she’s running out of them – fewer than a quarter are undecided.
  • Former city economic developer Arlena Acree was the only candidate other than Jones to make progress, but she appears to be making more headway among undecided whites than Swaine. But, like Swaine, it won’t be enough to put her in the runoff.
  • This is because the vast majority of undecided black voters will not break in either females’ direction. Instead, they will go for one of state Rep. Cedric Glover or former television executive Ed Bradley, Democrats both. Even if they each only took 20 percent each of that 46 percent black undecided, both would be close to 20 percent of the total vote and each might still edge out Swaine. If either can get at least two-thirds of the black undecided vote, Swaine has no chance.

    So really there’s just one question left now over the next ten days: can either Glover or Bradley seize a majority of the black vote and thereby put himself in the runoff with Jones? The odds favor Glover succeeding in this quest, but Bradley’s not out of it. And if one of the black Democrats does get the upper hand, it likely makes Jones Shreveport’s next mayor.
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