Louisiana’s race for the U.S. Senate looks largely the same as it has since the beginning of the year, with incumbent Republican David Vitter continuing to earn more than 50 percent of the vote in a state with unusually high tea party membership, according to Rasmussen Reports.
Vitter, who is seeking a second six-year term, has 53 percent support, according to a June 24 Rasmussen telephone survey of 500 likely voters in Louisiana. His Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, drew 35 percent, while 3 percent like some other candidate and 9 percent are undecided.
In April, Vitter posted a similar lead over Melancon.
Since January, Vitter’s support has not fallen below the 50 percent mark considered critical for incumbents, ranging instead from 52 percent to 57 percent. Melancon, by contrast, has been unable to break out of the 30s.
The Republican leads by nearly 30 points among male voters and by 11 points among women. He holds a 3-to-1 advantage among voters not affiliated with either major party.
Vitter has accused Melancon of supporting President Obama’s six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling following the disastrous oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. In a state highly dependent on the oil industry, voters strongly support both offshore and deepwater drilling despite the environmental catastrophe that is already washing oil onto Louisiana shores. Melancon has denied the accusation, part of Vitter’s continuing effort to link the Democrat to the president who is unpopular in the state.
Melancon is one of the few Democrats in Congress who voted against the national healthcare law, which remains highly unpopular in Louisiana. Almost 70 percent of the state’s voters favor repeal of that law, well above voter sentiments nationally. Just 28 percent oppose repeal. This includes 58 percent who strongly favor repeal, and 16 percent who strongly oppose it.
Just over 75 percent of those who strongly favor repeal support Vitter, while 72 percent of those in the much smaller group who strongly oppose it back Melancon.
Nearly 60 percent of Louisiana voters favor passage of an immigration law like Arizona’s in their state, slightly higher than the view nationally. One-fourth oppose such a law in Louisiana, and 17 percent are not sure.
Three-fourths of Louisiana voters support one of the chief provisions of the Arizona law, requiring a local police officer to check the immigration status of anyone stopped for a traffic violation or some other kind of violation if he suspects that person is an illegal immigrant.
Just over 30 percent consider themselves members of the tea party movement, nearly twice the level of membership nationally. Half say they are not members, but 18 percent are not sure.
Almost 85 percent of tea party members and 61 percent of those who are not sure support Vitter.
Just over half of Louisiana voters say the tea party movement is good for the country, while 23 percent think it’s a bad thing.
Only 40 percent approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president, unchanged from April, while 58 percent disapprove. This is well below his job approval ratings nationally as measured with the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll.
One-fourth of the state’s voters hold a very favorable opinion of Vitter, while 14 percent view him very unfavorably. Melancon, a member of Congress since 2005, is viewed very favorably by 20 percent and very unfavorably by 17 percent.
At this point in a campaign, Rasmussen Reports considers the number of people with a strong opinion more significant than the total favorable/unfavorable numbers.
In 2008, Rasmussen Reports projected nationally that Obama would defeat John McCain 52 percent-46 percent. Obama won 53 percent-46 percent. Four years earlier, Rasmussen Reports projected the vote totals for both George W. Bush and John Kerry within half a percentage point.
In Louisiana, Rasmussen polled on two races during the 2008 campaign. In the race for president, Rasmussen polling showed John McCain beating Barack Obama 57 percent-41 percent margin. In the election, McCain outpolled Obama 59 percent-40 percent.
In the 2008 Senate race in Louisiana, Mary Landrieu defeated John Kennedy 52 percent-46 percent. The final Rasmussen poll before the election showed Landrieu winning 53 percent-43 percent.
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