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Poll Looks at Govt. Shutdown's Effects on La. Senate Race

A new study from Public Policy Polling (PPP) has added to the drama of the 2014 Louisiana Senate Race, saying that the latest data shows the government shutdown is swaying voters against House GOP members. Even among registered Republicans, the GOP's numbers are slipping, the poll shows. While the election still a year off, the results have a bearing on next year's Senate race in Louisiana, according to the left-leaning PPP.


Election coverage has been increasing steadily as the week draws to a close and the Oct 18 election for Traffic Court and Criminal Magistrate gets ready for regular voting. But with the country buckling under the Beltway's latest showdown over the federal budget and debt ceiling, many eyes are being drawn to national races. One of those is the Mary Landrieu vs. Bill Cassidy race that is taking place in November... November of 2014.


As the PPP data states, the GOP is a mere six seats away from control of the Senate in the coming 2014 term. This makes certain battlegrounds even more important for the two parties, including Louisiana.


For the last six months, Sen. Landrieu and her GOP establishment-backed competition, Congressman Bill Cassidy M.D., have been trading blows in the media over voting records on guns, healthcare, and pinning responsibility for the on-going government shutdown on the other guy. With the shutdown and the debt ceiling taking up the most oxygen at the moment, the standoff in Congress is the most pressing issue of the group, for now.


PPP Director Tom Jensen highlights the obvious point of concern for the Cassidy campaign as they move forward: it is going to be a tough sell for any House member attempting to move into the Senate, as it was the House that caused the unpopular government shutdown (which according to the PPP numbers has 60-percent opposed).


"The shutdown will be particularly problematic for the GOP if it nominates one of the House members seeking a promotion to the Senate," said Jensen.


According to his group's analysis of the data Mary Landrieu leads Cassidy 48 percent-41 percent for re-election. Voters oppose the shutdown 60 percent-30 percent, and 47 percent say they’re less likely to vote for Cassidy for the Senate next year because he supported it, compared to only 32-percent who are more likely to.


According to the data, Landrieu’s lead grew to 52 percent- 42 percent when voters were informed of Cassidy’s position on the shutdown.


These numbers (collected from 632 Louisiana voting-age adults) could spell trouble for Cassidy, as Dems have been quite adamant about the Congressman's connection and continued support of the shutdown.


Landrieu's people are pointing at Cassidy for the Shutdown, and Cassidy's people have pointed to Landrieu's allegience with the President and his healthcare policies, which some politicos are citing as the "true reason" for the shutdown.


Cassidy has stated publicly that his concern has been over government control of health care exchanges, and that this will somehow take away patients' rights and privileges. Just before the shutdown, Cassidy moved against the health care bill, along with Sen. David Vitter, in regards to an exemption in the health care law that allowed Washington leaders and some of their staff members to retain their prior health care plans a month ago, claimed that Democrats were campaigning for the shutdown, and denounced the idea as a political tactic.


“Senate Democrats who hope for and celebrate a government shutdown...ignore the fact that President Obama could use a shutdown to deny resources to troops, cut off benefits to seniors and fulfill his mission of shutting down the oil and gas industry," Cassidy said on September 19. "If he instructs the Department of Interior to stop inspections, it would effectively cause another moratorium, hurting Louisiana families and businesses."


Meanwhile, Louisiana Democrats have frequently characterized the federal funding stoppage as "Bill Cassidy's government shutdown."


Regardless of the blame-game, the fact, according to PPP, is that in the eyes of voters, the shutdown is being tied to House Republicans and is going to add more drama to these key races, including Landrieu v. Cassidy.


"These polls make it clear that across the country, whether a state voted for Obama by 10 points or voted for Romney by 20, voters are extremely angry about the government shutdown," said Jensen. "And it’s going to make Republican hopes of taking back the Senate next year that much harder."


In virtually every negative political campaign, candidates seek to show their opponent's otherworldly capacity to almost single-handedly bring down the Government with his/her ineffective policy decisions. Given that the government has actually been partially stopped this time, the claim seems to have been brought into sharper relief.


Filling the War Chest The PPP data comes on the tails of Sen. Landrieu reporting that her end of September fund-raising numbers put her above the Republican challenger by millions, even before the shutdown took place.


This funding announcement has shown the bitter battle set to drag on over the coming thirteen-month campaign—even the word choices and phrases used reveal the malicious, if not vindictive, nature of the race. Landrieu's camp refers to her reserves as a "Campaign War Chest," which now stands at $5.78 million (cited as over $2 million more than she had raised at this juncture of her last campaign). Cassidy's reports showas $3.4 million on hand.

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