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Mind the Gap 

  The 2010 general election may still be more than eight months away, but a Rasmussen poll released last week contained little good news for Congressman Charlie Melancon, who is challenging U.S. Sen. David Vitter. The telephone poll of likely voters found Vitter leading Melancon 57 percent to 33 percent — a 24-point gap. That's a significant widening of the margin found in a Rasmussen poll in October 2009, when the difference between the two men was only 10 points. Only 7 percent of voters in the most recent poll were undecided.

  Melancon also has some ground to make up on the fundraising side. When campaign finance reports for the final quarter of 2009 were filed at the beginning of February, Vitter had raised $1.2 million, exactly double what Melancon had raked in. Moreover, Melancon's war chest stood at $2 million, while Vitter was sitting on $4.5 million.

  In the 2009 poll, secretary of state Jay Dardenne had fared better than Melancon against Vitter in a hypothetical matchup. Dardenne last week announced his interest in the lieutenant governor's office being vacated by New Orleans mayor-elect Mitch Landrieu. — Allman

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