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Richmond numbers assertion shows lack of confidence

You might have thought it was isolated to the Rep. Charlie Melancon candidacy, but now it appears at least one other Democrat challenger in Louisiana has decided to use the same playbook – float unreliable poll numbers in an effort to boost their campaigns for different reasons.

Melancon has made it a habit throughout, his latest effort being to trumpet another poll by for-hire-by-Democrats-only Anzalone-Liszt that had him down only by three points to incumbent Republican Sen. David Vitter, despite every single independent poll, and almost every poll, for more than a year during the campaign showing Vitter with double-digit leads. (There are a number of ways a poll can be skewed for a client, such as by leading questions to “push” a respondent in a certain direction or by manipulating the weighings by demographic characteristics in a direction favorable to the client.)

But reality reared its head again as pollster Magellan Strategies, one that usually works for Republicans, confirmed yet again that Vitter held a huge lead, 17 points. Further, it provided internal numbers to show it pulled a representative sample and there is no indication it asked leading questions – information not provided for the poll on behalf of Melancon. It also was consistent with the latest, if a bit aged, independent polling. As typically there has been at least a 10 point gap between Democrat-leaning polls and independent ones, Melancon probably is actually down 10-15 points.

However, now Democrat state Rep. Cedric Richmond, challenging incumbent Republican Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao, seems to have gone to the same page Melancon studies. His campaign has released poll results by the same firm asserting that he has a 17-point lead. Using the same metric for the Senate that this adds a 14-point bump to the actual Democrat totals, Richmond may be hanging on to only a three point lead over Cao.

Melancon’s motivation for his publicizing the questionable results has been long clear – he didn’t want an impression that the race has been over for some time that would discourage support of him. Yet Richmond has been considered the favorite since he won the party nomination, so his need to circulate these numbers means he continues to feel pressure, perhaps even sensing an erosion of his position with the intent being to try to head off an oncoming collapse. Consider that if Richmond truly felt confident about his position, there would be no need to do this as whatever he was doing without this out there was working and need not be tampered with.

In short, that Richmond took this path indicates Cao is hanging in there close to him. Richmond still is the favorite, but a really big wave that appears to be building in the GOP’s favor could do what only months ago seemed impossible, reelect Cao.

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