Aug 20, 2010 2:26 PM by Letitia Walker
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A new statewide voter survey shows Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter with a 12-percentage-point edge in a likely November matchup with Democratic challenger Charlie Melancon.
Vitter was the choice of 48 percent 1 12½ 11½ 5-5 by Washington-based Clarus Research Group, while 36 percent chose Melancon, a congressman from Napoleonville. Fourteen percent were undecided. Other candidates, including independent state Rep. Ernest Wooton of Plaquemines Parish, got 1 percent or less.
The telephone poll of 600 registered voters was taken Aug. 15 and 16 for several television stations. It
has an overall margin for error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Vitter appears to benefit from extremely high name recognition.
Of those surveyed, 91 percent said they were familiar with him; 49 percent said they had a favorable opinion of him while 33 percent were unfavorable.
Melancon was familiar to a much lower 68 percenke with 32 percent saying they had a favorable opinion of him and 24 perecent, unfavorable.
Faucheux said Vitter's opposition to President Barack Obama also helps him. Obama lost the state to John McCain in the 2008 race and voters' unfavorable opinions of Obama pose a problem for Melancon.
Vitter was the choice of most white voters polled, 59 percent to 27 percent. African-American voters favored Melancon, 62 percent to 16 percent.
Among women, the two were close - Vitter with 40 percent, Melancon with 38 percent. Faucheux said Melancon has potential to gain among white women. Even though they favored Vitter by 22 percentage points, 18 percent were undecided, he said.
Before they can get to the November ballot, Vitter and Melancon each must win his party's nomination, and each has a substantial lead going in to the Aug. 28 party primaries. The Republican primary is open only to registered Republicans and Vitter wampthe choice of 74 percent of Republican voters polled. Retired Supreme
Court Justice Chet Traylor, a last-minute entry in the primary, pulled only 5 percent and a third candidate, Nick Accardo, had 3 percent. Traylor, once thought of as a potential spoiler, had
overall name recognition of only 22 percent among all voters and he
has little time or campaign money to build on that.
The Democratic primary is open to Democrats and independents.
More than half the voters surveyed for that race, where turnout is
expected to be low, were undecided. However, Melancon was the
choice of 43 percent. His little-known opponents were in the single
digits: Neeson Chauvin with 3 percent and Cary Deaton with 2
The survey's margin or error for the Republican primary sample
was plus or minus 5.9 percentage points; for the Democratic primary
sample, 4.9 percent.