Louisiana                                                            Toss Up
Post Nov 5 Polls
Terrell (R)
Landrieu (D)
Recent Poll Average
Dem +1.5
12/2 - 12/3
Dem +2
Dem +1
GOP +4
Dem +16
GOP +4
GOP +8
Dem +15

On election eve it looks like this race will go down to the wire. The bump Terrell received from President Bush's visit earlier this week has subsided a little. The start of hunting season tomorrow could hurt Terrell, but contrary to some reports LSU is not playing in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta, which could have had a negative impact on GOP turnout. Bottom line, turnout will decide this race. We think black turnout will be solid, but not huge. The white vote is the real question mark, if Landrieu can't do better among white voters than the other southern defeated Senate Democratic candidates she will definitely lose. However, her polling numbers among whites are not terrible and as we said before if she could get one third of the white vote she will be in good shape if the black turnout comes in at 25% or higher. We suspect black turnout will be more like 23%-24% of the total vote and Terrell will squeak out the win. Terrell 51% - Landrieu 49%. FINAL CALL (12/6)

It looks like the Republicans are poised to finish off the 2002 election by picking up one more Democratic Senate seat for a total pickup of three seats. While the two most recent polls (independent polls) both show Landrieu ahead by one and two points, we think Terrell is well positioned for victory this Saturday.

The most recent poll by Mason-Dixon, taken Monday and Tuesday of this week, shows an eight point bump for Terrell on Tuesday. The 378 voters questioned Monday night supported Landrieu 48%-43%, but the 247 people interviewed Tuesday night supported Terrell 49%-46%. Not coincidentally President Bush was in Louisiana on Tuesday campaigning and raising money for Terrell. Landrieu was in trouble before the President's appearance this week, but we think the bump from the President will probably be the final nail in Landrieu's coffin.

The two factors that could still work to produce a a Landrieu victory is her support in the white community which appears to be pretty solid for a southern, non-conservative Democrat. The University of New Orleans poll had Terrell ahead 58%-31% among white voters. President Bush carried white voters in Louisiana 72%-26% in 2000 and we think Terrell will need close to 65% of the white vote in this election, assuming a "normal" black turnout to win. The other positive for the Landrieu campaign is the assistance of Donna Brazille in get out the vote efforts in the African-American community. If Landrieu can get over one-third of the white vote and she can get a decent turnout in the black community, 25% or higher of total voters, she has a chance to squeak by with a narrow win.

Abortion has become an issue in this race and contrary to typical press wisdom the issue is working to hurt the pro-choice candidate Landrieu with the very white Democratic voters she needs to have in order to win. So like so many of the other races this cycle, this one will come down to turnout. Working to help turnout for the Republicans is the House race in the fifth congressional district where the Republican Lee Fletcher is expected to win. Given the recent history, just last month, in Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and the other southern states we see little reason to anticipate a Democratic upside surprise regarding turnout on election day. With the President's visit still fresh in the voters minds we think Terrell pulls out another big win for the GOP. Terrell 52% - Landrieu 47%. (12/5)

The latest poll conducted by Dr. Susan Howell of the UNO Survey Research Center, shows the race a dead heat, with Landrieu clinging to a one point lead, 44-43. We take this poll as a bad sign for Landrieu. Right now we think Terrell has the upper hand. (12/02)

The polls are all over the place in this race. The National Journal's Charlie Cook on Tuesday opened his column, "with one poll showing Republican state Elections Commissioner Suzanne Haik Terrell running ahead of incumbent Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu by 17 points and another showing Landrieu leading Terrell by 16 points, things are wild in Louisiana." Well things are indeed wild when you have two polls that are 33 points apart with the election less than two weeks away.

The three recent polls that we were able to get information on, when taken as a composite, show Landrieu ahead by a couple of points, and this goes along with Cook's assertion that the "more credible private polling is showing the race very close, Landrieu is ahead by single digits, but there is a dangerously large undecided vote."

The Southern Media and Opinion Research poll that has Landrieu ahead by 16 points was weighted to reflect black voter turnout at 28%, which we view as way too high. Xavier University pollster Silas Lee tells the Shreveport Times that black turnout was 26% in 1991 when David Duke ran for Governor "and it's never been as high since" so we see it as highly unlikely that black turnout will be the 28% that the Southern Media folks used in their poll sampling. The Marketing Research Institute poll projected black turnout at only 23% and their poll, taken at exactly the same time as the Southern Media and Opinion Research poll, has Terrell ahead 46%-42%.

Louisiana politics has been racially polarized for some time now and the results from 2000 where 72% of whites voted for George W. Bush and 92% of blacks voted for Al Gore bear that out. The conventional wisdom is Landrieu is going to have to have a large turnout in the black community to win. And while that is certainly true, if the results from the other southern Senate races are indicative of any kind of emerging trend, Landrieu is going to have keep Terrell's share of the white vote below 67% irrespective of how large a turnout she may get from the black community. For even with a very large African-American turnout in 2000 going over 92% for Gore, Bush still carried the state by 8 points because he won 72% of the white vote.

While Landrieu may currently be ahead by several points, if her average poll numbers continue to hover around 45%, or below, we suspect the tailwind from President Bush's expected visit the Wednesday before the election may just be enough to give Terrell the victory. (11/27)

Pre-Nov 5 Polls
Nov 5
Perkins (R)
Terrell (R)
Cooksey (R)
Landrieu (D)
Perkins (R)
Terrell (R)
Cooksey (R)
Landrieu (D)

PRE-NOV 5 ELECTION COMMENTS:Landrieu is struggling to reach the 50% mark she needs to avoid a December runoff. Depending on the outcome of the other Senate races, if Landrieu fails to eclipse 50% Louisiana could become ground zero for a crazy, bitter, month-long nationalized battle for control of the Senate. We think a runoff is almost guaranteed.

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