THIBODAUX, Louisiana (AP) – President Barack Obama may not be on Louisiana’s Senate runoff ballot, but it’s clear his widespread unpopularity in the state stands as Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s biggest hurdle to a fourth term.
Landrieu led an eight-candidate primary, but her 42 percent was only 16,000 votes ahead of Republican Rep Bill Cassidy and far short of her 2008 totals when she won without a runoff. Exit polls explain the collapse: Landrieu got votes from 18 percent of whites, while nearly three out of four white voters said they strongly disapprove of the president.
“It’s not so much a Mary thing as it is a Democrat thing and Obama thing,” said restaurant owner Dean Gehbauer of Thibodaux.
That makes Cassidy, a congressman from Baton Rouge, the favourite on Dec. 6. A Cassidy win would push Republicans’ new Senate majority to 54 seats in January and complete the party’s southern sweep of top statewide offices from the Carolinas westward to Texas.
Election returns offer little to suggest Gehbauer is wrong. In the last six years, Landrieu lost ground to Republicans in every Louisiana parish.
In 2008, she defeated Republican John Kennedy by 121,111 votes statewide.
This time, Cassidy and third-place finisher Rob Maness, an ultraconservative tea-party favorite who has since endorsed Cassidy, combined to lead Landrieu by 186,207 votes, a net swing of 307,318.