GOP polls say Landrieu faces tough battle

Polls released Monday by GOP firms suggest U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is in for a battle to hold onto her political seat.

OnMessage Inc., which advises Gov. Bobby Jindal, and Harper Polling, a relatively new GOP polling firm, both looked at the race, which is important to Republicans.

Both polls were distributed by Republican campaign organizations.

Landrieu is Louisiana’s only Democratic statewide elected official. U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, plans to challenge Landrieu next year in her re-election bid.

Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report in Washington, D.C., said the difference next year could be Cassidy.

“Everyone pretty much agrees that Landrieu is going to have a tough race,” Cook said Monday in an email response. “Cassidy is clearly going to be a better candidate than Woody Jenkins was in 1996 and Suzy Terrell was in 2002, and 2014 is unlikely to be as good for Democrats as 2008 was, the last time Landrieu was up and when she faced (state Treasurer John Kennedy).”

Cook added: “So Landrieu has always had either weak opponents or relatively favorable years. The question is how strong an opponent will Cassidy be, and we will have to wait to find out. We know it will be a close race.”

OnMessage polled 800 Louisiana voters by phone last week. The firm said the survey “was stratified by parish to reflect historic voter trends.” The margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percent.

The poll concluded that Landrieu has a four-point lead over Cassidy.

The firm asked callers how they would vote if the U.S. Senate election were held today. Forty-five percent said they would vote for Landrieu while 41 percent named Cassidy. Fourteen percent were undecided.

Harper Polling tackled the race by polling 596 people last week. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.01 percent.

The firm’s poll gave Cassidy the edge with 47 percent picking him versus 45 percent choosing Landrieu. Eight percent were unsure.

Landrieu’s campaign manager, Adam Sullivan, said the senator already knew the race would be tight.

“Sen. Landrieu is used to tight races and she will win this one too. Even GOP polls show that Sen. Landrieu remains strong and that the people of Louisiana know she fights and wins for them everyday,” Adam Sullivan said.

The polling firms were further apart on another political issue.

Jindal’s approval rating is either 50 percent or 35 percent, depending on which poll is to be believed.

OnMessage, which counts the governor’s former chief of staff among its partners, registered a significant improvement in the governor’s job approval rating.

In the OnMessage survey, 50 percent approved of the governor’s job performance.

Harper Polling’s survey found that 35 percent had a favorable opinion of the governor and only 20 percent wanted him to run for president in 2016.

In April, Southern Media and Opinion Research pollster Bernie Pinsonat’s poll charted that Jindal’s approval rating sank to 38 percent. His poll was commissioned by Baton Rouge contractor Lane Grigsby.

OnMessage partner Curt Anderson disputed Monday that the governor’s numbers were ever bad.

“There is now a cottage industry of so called pollsters who use ‘auto dial’ technology because it is so inexpensive. Those tend to be way off in all kinds of directions,” he said by email without naming any particular firm that uses that technology.

He attributed Jindal’s positive showing in OnMessage’s poll to Jindal wanting to get things done and the state’s economy.

Pinsonat said he agreed with Anderson that pollsters who use “auto dial” technology tend to have skewed results, which is one reason why he said his firm does not use that approach.

He said the numbers his poll documented were verified by other polls released around the time.

“He works for Jindal. I do not. I would expect him to defend his client,” Pinsonat said of Anderson.

Jordan Blum and Mark Ballard contributed to this report.