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Melancon attack campaign continues despite slipping

Memo to the Senate campaign of Rep. Charlie Melancon and to the detractors of Gov. Bobby Jindal: it ain’t working yet, and it ain’t likely to work this election cycle.

Another independent poll, this by Southern Media Opinion and Research on behalf of a businessman with Republican sympathies, confirms what other independent polls this year have shown: incumbent Republican Sen. David Vitter continues to hold a nearly 20-point lead on his Democrat challenger Melancon. With a gap at 18 points, Vitter in fact is gaining ground on Melancon compared to the last poll done by the firm six months ago.

Perhaps the only non-dark spot for Melancon in these results is that around 20 percent of the 600 respondents randomly interviewed via telephone say they are undecided so with Vitter just below 50 percent of the intended vote, although a bit closer to it than in the October poll, if he sweeps all of that up he can win. But dampening even that small enthusiasm is that Melancon is actually polling worse than six months ago and the undecided number has grown around 3 percent – meaning if anything Melancon is losing support even as Vitter gains it. That Vitter also has a 55 percent approval rating indicates that Melancon will have a difficult time eating into existing supporters of Vitter. In short, somebody with Vitter’s numbers at this stage of the contest almost never loses.

Not that Melancon hasn’t stopped trying. His entire campaign theme, assisted by Democrat fellow-traveler organizations, has been to try to paint Vitter as dishonest, with the latest attack being advertisements about Vitter’s alleged “Forgotten Crimes.” The irony has been lost entirely on the Melancon campaign that this accusation of Vitter dishonesty is itself dishonest, because not only has Vitter not been convicted of any crimes involving any activities described in the ad, he hasn’t even been charged with any so how can these be “crimes” that are “forgotten?”

The polls results show that this theme isn’t working. Nor can critics of Republican Jindal take heart in results that show his approval rating has slipped all the way down to 61 percent. While almost 20 points lower than in the euphoric days not long after his inauguration, it’s a small drop of about 3 percent from last fall and remarkably stable after all the money woes the state has been wrung through recently.

Now 17 months from a shot a reelection, Jindal still has plenty of cushioning with only 37 percent disapproval. He looks ready to cruise to it absent a long and vicious string of bad news and disappointments for which he has to get blamed, especially with no obvious quality opponent waiting in the wings.

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