Poll numbers are all over the place down in Louisiana. Depending on which poll you believe, Democratic incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu should win next Saturday’s election against Republican opponent Suzanne Haik Terrell in a cake walk (two polls have her ahead by double digits), or she’s in the fight of her life (another poll has the race in a dead heat).
But none of these polls had a sample of more than 700 respondents, and with few confirming that they are likely voters and a margin of error upwards of five percent, no one can make heads or tails of where this race is going.
One thing is for sure, Landrieu has hung out the “Do Not Disturb” sign at the state line for her Democratic colleagues. Rumors of an appearance by Bill Clinton on her behalf at the Bayou Classic football game over the weekend in New Orleans were just that. The only William Jefferson that Landrieu campaigned with was the congressman of that name. From Baton Rouge to Shreveport to the so-called Big Easy, Landrieu has stayed close to Louisiana’s own, refusing the help of national party types like Sen. Tom Daschle. Even gumbo gadfly James Carville is unwelcome.
Clinton was thought to be a potential draw for prospective black voters, seen as critical to Landrieu’s success. New rumors were circulating in the Big Easy on Monday that Clinton had cut a phone message that will be used by the state Democratic Party in a get-out-the-vote effort in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport, perhaps on Friday and election day. “We don’t know if Clinton is doing anything or not,” says a state party official. “And if he is, it isn’t anyone’s business but the voters of Louisiana.”
But Clinton may have avoided New Orleans for more personal reasons. Seems his old flame Gennifer Flowers has found success running a cabaret in the French Quarter, within walking distance of the Superdome, where Saturday’s football game was played. Perhaps Clinton feared being drawn back into the warm embrace of his former lady on St. Louis Street.
Meanwhile, look for Terrell to pull out all the big guns leading up to Saturday. The president will be in town today and there is talk that Rudy Giuliani will make a tour later in the week through Cajun country, home to a sizable Italian-American contingent. “The president and vice president are great,” says a Baton Rouge Republican operative. “But Rudy may be the one that really helps us out.”
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