Saturday, August 9, 2008

Capitelli Leads in His DA Poll

Posted By on Sat, Aug 9, 2008 at 4:49 AM

Orleans Parish DA candidate Ralph Capitelli just got a poll back from a Washington, D.C., polling firm headed by former Louisiana lawmaker Ron Faucheux that has Capitelli leading the pack. I confirmed the results with Faucheux, who recently was named president of Clarus Research Group in D.C.

 

Here are the results of the survey, which was taken by live telephone interviewers Aug. 5-7 (Tuesday-Thursday):

• Ralph Capitelli, 31%

• Leon Cannizzaro, 26%

• Linda Bizzarro, 4%

• Jason Williams, 3%

• Undecided, 36%

 

Faucheux says the survey had a random sample of 500 registered voters and was representative of the entire city’s electorate, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

 

“It’s very important to note,” Faucheux said in an email, “that the only questions that were asked before the DA’s trial heat were the standard introductory screening questions, a question about whether the city was on the right or wrong track, and a name ID/favorability question that included the names of all four DA candidates with no other information offered. This trial heat is the only trial heat that we asked in the entire poll, and no ‘push’ questions were asked to bias the trial heat.”

 

Those last disclosures are important, because a lot of polling outfits peddle “push” polls that basically describe the favored candidate as leaping tall buildings in a single bound to rescue women and children from towering infernos, while also describing the opponent as a habitual check-bouncer and wife beater who knocked up his neighbor’s dog. You can pretty much predict how those trial heats will come out.

 

Looking at the numbers, I can’t say I’m surprised. Capitelli came out first as a candidate and went on TV early. Cannizzaro has run four times citywide, so he had lots of name recognition going in. What does surprise me is Faucheux’s statement, in an email, that Capitelli ran first among blacks as well as whites. One of Cannizzaro’s strengths is the fact that, in his prior elections, he always ran well among African-American voters. Both Capitelli and Cannizzaro are white, as is Bizzarro, who has never run for office.

 

It’s also not surprising that 36 percent of the voters were undecided. Two months before the primary, the race is yet to be run.

 

Jason Williams, a criminal defense attorney, is the only African-American candidate in this race, but he started out far behind Capitelli and Cannizzaro in name recognition and money. He has put a lot of his own money into his campaign but still has not come close to the two front-runners in campaign funds. He is the son-in-law of former Mayor Sidney Barthelemy, who is working hard to help him build political bridges and establish himself as a candidate.

 

The most important thing to remember about this or any other poll at this stage is that it’s not a crystal ball. A good poll is but a snapshot in time — an accurate picture of what the electorate is thinking at the time the survey is taken. It does not predict how the candidates will run on Election Day, particularly when the election is still two months away.

 

That said, this is starting out as a two-man race. We’ll see what happens between now and Oct. 4 to change that.

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