SLU Poll: Louisiana Voters and the 2004 Presidential and U. S. Senatorial
SOUTHEASTERN POLL: BUSH HOLDS COMMANDING LEAD IN LOUISIANA
HAMMOND – Heading into the final week
of the campaign, a Southeastern Louisiana University public opinion poll
of Louisiana registered voters shows President George W. Bush holding a
commanding lead over his major contender Senator John Kerry.
Data gathered from interviews conducted
Oct. 17-22 with 637 randomly selected registered voters statewide indicate
that 57.8 percent of voters would select the President compared to 31.6
picking Kerry, and .5 percent choosing Ralph Nader. “Other” candidates
were chosen by 2.5 percent, and 7.7 percent of the sample did not know
or refused to tell who they would vote for.
The information was collected by faculty
and students in Southeastern’s Florida Parishes Social Sciences Research
Center and has a sampling error of plus or minus 4 percent. The poll was
conducted by Kurt Corbello, associate professor of political science.
“As we expected, voting choices in
this election are polarized by race,” Corbello said. “White voters overwhelmingly
support Bush over Kerry by 77 to 16 percent, while black voters strongly
support Kerry over Bush by 66 percent to 13 percent.”
Corbello said that while Kerry is favored
by two-thirds (67%) of voters who identified themselves as Democrats, he
loses almost 24 percent of those Democrats to Bush. “More importantly,
while Bush receives monolithic support among Republicans (94.7%), he also
receives almost 64 percent of the vote from independents,” Corbello said.
He added that the poll shows Bush dominating
Kerry in all regions of the state, especially in north and central Louisiana,
and does not show any signs of a gender gap.
Corbello’s study attempted to ascertain
voters’ feelings about negative statements made about each candidate.
“We wanted to see who has done a better
job of making their negative depiction of the other candidate stick in
the minds of Louisiana voters,” Corbello said. “In Louisiana, in general
the Bush campaign has clearly been the most convincing of the two. Black
voters, however, tended to agree with negative assessments of Bush and
to disagree with negative assessments of Kerry.”
In the race for the U.S. Senate seat
being vacated by John Breaux, candidate David Vitter is favored by 42.9
percent of those surveyed, followed by Chris John (18.1%), John Kennedy
(10.4%) and Arthur Morrell (1.1%). In possible trial runoffs, both John
and Kennedy lag behind Vitter.
“However,” Corbello stated, “recent
U.S. Senate runoff elections in Louisiana show that Vitter cannot rest
complacently on a primary election lead.”
The survey also questioned voters about
the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Slightly more than 53 percent approved of the
war with 35.4 percent expressing disapproval and 11.3 percent expressing
no opinion or refusing to answer. Corbello noted that the results were
polarized by race with more than two-thirds of white voters (69.6%) expressing
approval compared to 15.5 percent of black voters.
Voters were asked to prioritize a set
of domestic issues and whether whoever is president should make that issue
a high, medium or low priority. Overwhelmingly, 80.2 percent of voters
in Louisiana saw “protecting Social Security” as a high priority. The idea
of “developing a national health care system” was rated a high priority
by 55.1 percent followed by “creating more high-paying jobs” (54%).
The poll was conducted by approximately
140 Southeastern political science students specially trained for the project
and working under professional supervision.