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Poll Gives David Vitter Edge 

  The highly anticipated U.S. Senate contest between Congressman Charlie Melancon and incumbent David Vitter is still more than a year away, but a Democratic internal poll has surfaced that shows how the two men are stacking up. As expected, Melancon, D-Napoleonville, enters the race as the underdog, with only 48 percent name recognition, compared to Vitter's statewide recognition of 86 percent. That alone is enough for the poll to put Vitter in the lead, 47 percent to Melancon's 37 percent. The poll was conducted in May by the D.C.-based Anzalone Liszt Research, a Melancon vendor, and distributed throughout the Democratic campaign earlier this month. While Vitter's lead is welcomed by the GOP, pollsters John Anzalone and Jeff Liszt contend the survey offers several bright spots for Melancon. For instance, Vitter remains below the 50 percent threshold — "a very troubling sign for an incumbent," say the pollsters. When participants (800 likely voters) were given only positive information on the two candidates, such as party affiliation, background and future goals (about 100 words each, with Vitter listed first and no reference at all to the prostitution scandal), Melancon pulled ahead 49-41 percent. Moreover, the poll revealed a net-negative re-elect rating for Vitter, which is a fancy way of saying nearly half (45 percent) of the participants preferred "someone new," as opposed to another term from Vitter. The numbers aren't earth-shattering and pretty much reflect Vitter leads shown in a July poll from Public Policy Polling (44-32) and another from March by Research 2000/Daily Kos (48-41). — Jeremy Alford

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