LOUISIANA (KPLC) - A KPLC/Raycom Media poll finds Democratic State Representative John Bel Edwards and Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter enjoy sizable leads over their opponents in the final couple weeks of the Louisiana Governor's race.
Edwards is now in first place at 24 percent, while Vitter is at 21 percent; Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, 8 percent and Public Service Commission Scott Angelle, 7 percent, according to the poll.
A large percentage of voters — 37 percent — remain undecided. Three percent of those questioned declined to answer.
The telephone poll of 602 registered voters, by Metairie-based Multi-Quest, Int'l, was taken between Oct. 7-13 and has an error margin of plus or minus 4 percent.
The gap between Edwards and Vitter widens when the results are narrowed to the "most likely" voters — the 400 respondents who profess to being either "very" or "extremely" interested in the Oct. 24 gubernatorial election.
Among those voters, the results are Edwards, 32 percent; Vitter, 24 percent; Dardenne, 10 percent; and Angelle, 10 percent..
In a hypothetical runoff, Edwards, with 48 percent, leads Vitter, with 32 percent, among registered voters.
That margin jumps to Edwards, with 52 percent, and Vitter, with 33 percent, among most likely voters, according to the poll.
Pollster John Grimm said the numbers are based on those likely to vote in the primary.
As local races are decided, a major drop off in turnout, "would pull Edwards below the 50 percent mark," Grimm said.
As the lone major Democrat in the primary, Grimm has watched the three major Republican candidates vie for the same primary voters.
Grimm said Edwards has been largely untouched by his opponents so far in the campaign, a dynamic that would certainly change in a bitterly fought runoff election.
"The Republicans are eating their own instead of dealing with the Democrat," Grimm said.
The poll reveals only 12 percent of voters have a "not very favorable" opinion of Edwards, compared to 43 percent who view Vitter in a negative light.
In a general election, "Vitter will bring out every drop of mud there is," Grimm said,
The poll is but a snapshot in time and may not reflect other factors that could shape the race in the closing days.
"Turnout is going to be highly impacted by local races," Grimm said.