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Jindal Rising Steadily 

The latest independent statewide survey shows that the race for governor has begun to tighten up, while the contest for lieutenant governor looks like a runaway.

In the governor's race, Republican wunderkind Bobby Jindal continues his meteoric rise, while Democratic Attorney General Richard Ieyoub has slipped into a statistical tie for third place with fellow Democrat Buddy Leach.

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco, also a Democrat, remains officially in first place, but her once-substantial lead has evaporated; she is now in a virtual tie for first place with Jindal.

Those are the results of the latest survey by Baton Rouge-based Southern Media and Opinion Research (SMOR), which conducted a poll for various media outlets across the state. The SMOR survey was taken Aug. 22-25 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. Here are the results:

Kathleen Blanco, 15.3 percent.

Bobby Jindal, 14.2 percent.

Buddy Leach, 10.6 percent.

Richard Ieyoub, 9.6 percent.

Randy Ewing, 6.4 percent.

Hunt Downer, 6.3 percent.

Jay Blossman, 1.9 percent.

Undecided, 35.5 percent.

The SMOR survey shows how fluid this election has become. Every candidate except Blossman, who consistently has trailed the pack, shows some movement either up or down.

Jindal has climbed steadily since entering the race in January, both in the polls and in fundraising. He is now the leading candidate among white voters with 19 percent and is taking conservative whites away from Blanco. She had led among white voters in earlier SMOR surveys, but she has slipped into second place there with 14.5 percent. Jindal fares poorly among black voters, however, with only 3.2 percent of the vote. Blanco still has 18.3 percent of the African-American vote.

Because white voters constitute 70 percent of the state's electorate, Jindal's increasing strength among whites bodes well for his chances of making a runoff on Oct. 4. Blanco's best chance of doing likewise depends on whether she can remain the top choice among females -- both white and black. She gets 17 percent of the white female vote and 22.7 percent among black females. Blanco is the only woman among the major candidates.

The other big story behind the SMOR numbers is Ieyoub's small slip downward and Leach's surge upward -- with black voters accounting for most of the change. Leach has campaigned as if he himself were an African-American candidate, and black voters are rewarding him for it. He now leads among blacks with 23.7 percent of the vote, compared to Ieyoub's 14 percent. Interestingly, Ieyoub now trails Blanco among black voters.

To a lesser degree, the SMOR poll is good news for Ewing and Downer in that they at least are creeping upward. Each will need a major push in the coming weeks -- combined with a slip among one or more front-runners -- to make the cut.

At the back of the pack, Blossman continues to spend heavily and go nowhere. He gets zero black vote, he runs last in his Florida parishes base, and he is the only major candidate with an overall "unfavorable" rating among voters (17.2 percent favorable, 32.8 percent unfavorable). At this rate, he may get just as many votes if he pulls out of the race than if he stays in.

Meanwhile, in the race for lieutenant governor, state Rep. Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans has improved upon his strong showing in the previous SMOR poll. He now leads all of his Republican opponents combined by a vote of 35.3 percent to 24.1 percent. Here are the numbers:

Mitch Landrieu, 35.3 percent.

Clyde Holloway, 10.7 percent

Melinda Schwegmann, 11.3 percent.

Kirt Bennett, 2.1 percent.

Stephen Rue, 1.5 percent.

Undecided, 38.7 percent.

Since the poll was completed, Rue has pulled out of this race and instead is running for the state Senate.

In the last SMOR poll, Landrieu led with 28 percent, so he clearly has solidified his lead. He now gets almost 60 percent of the decided vote, and none of his GOP challengers appears poised to take him on.

For now, all eyes are on the governor's race, and it's looking more and more as if Jindal has the hot hand.

click to enlarge Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco remains officially in first - place, but in a virtual tie with Repulican wunderkind - Bobby Jindal. - TRACIE MORRIS/YOUNG STUDIO
  • Tracie Morris/Young Studio
  • Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco remains officially in first place, but in a virtual tie with Repulican wunderkind Bobby Jindal.
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