|A recent television ad paid for by by 'Friends of Mary Landrieu' shows citizens of a rural Louisiana town watching Landrieu TV appearances in which she takes it to the Obama Administration on a number of issues. Separating herself from an unpopular president is a must if she hopes to hang on to her seat.|
Of the premier 2014 midterm contests, the Louisiana Senate race is *the* most likely to flip into Republican hands, at least according to current Huffington Post Pollster averages. That's why the new Public Policy Polling survey allowed the Landrieu campaign to breathe at least a slight sigh of relief, especially considering the recent spate of run-off polling. An incumbent who is tied with their opponent at 47% wouldn't typically be received as welcome news for most political campaigns, unless six of the eight polls taken this year found that opponent ahead.
But as far as Democrats are concerned, the good news stops there. Because a closer inspection of the PPP memo and crosstabs suggests little room for improvement for the incumbent:
The likely Landrieu/Cassidy match up for the December runoff is tied at 47. Among those who support Maness or Hollis or are undecided for the November election, 68% move to Cassidy for December compared to only 11% who move toward Landrieu. Even though only 6% of voters are undecided in that match up, they don't set up great for Landrieu- 61% voted for Romney to 20% who voted for Obama, and she has a 14/65 approval rating.
It's July, and if you buy the PPP numbers, a mere 6% of likely voters are undecided. So no matter where they end up, the Louisiana Senate race is bound to be at least remotely close.
As Nate Silver has argued before, at least at the presidential level, there comes a point in the election cycle where job approval ratings become a leading indicator of final result. So let's divvy up that tiny 6% slice of the electorate to the Louisiana Senate candidates, with 14% going to Mary Landrieu (her approval rating among undecided voters), and 65% going to Republican Bill Cassidy (her disapproval rating among undecideds).
Suddenly, the GOP challenger jumps out to a 51-48% lead, which goes to show that despite undecided voters being few and far between, Landrieu is unpopular enough with them to make a difference. The same thing happens when you reallocate undecideds according to how they voted in the 2012 election (61% for Romney, 20% for Obama). What was a 47-47 tie again becomes a 51-48% Cassidy lead.