News Release

Southeastern poll shows McCain with significant lead over Obama, Landrieu well ahead of Kennedy

Contact: Rene Abadie


The Southeastern Poll: The 2008 Presidential -- Senatorial Election Survey

     HAMMOND – In a poll conducted two weeks before the Nov. 4 general election, Republican presidential candidate John McCain holds a significant lead over Democratic candidate Barack Obama, according to a statewide Southeastern Louisiana University poll of registered voters.

     However, there appears to be no Republican coattails factor that would help Republican Treasury Secretary John Kennedy in his challenge to unseat incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu.

     Data gathered Oct. 20-23 of a random sample of 503 Louisiana registered voters shows McCain leading Obama by 50.6 percent to 38.3 percent, with only 11 percent choosing “someone else” or saying they were undecided or refused to answer.

     The information was collected by faculty and students in the university’s Southeastern Social Science Research Center and has a sampling error of plus or minus 4.46 percent. The poll, conducted by Kurt Corbello, associate professor of political science, also examined what Louisiana voters consider to be the priority issues facing the next president.

     The complete poll can be accessed on the Southeastern Web site at

     The results measure attitudes about two weeks away from the election, a time when many things can happen that could alter these patterns, Corbello cautioned.

     “One of the problems with most polls dealing with elections is that determining the makeup of the electorate on election day is like trying to hit a moving target,” he said. While the Southeastern poll includes all voters, “likely” or “chronic” voters are identified by looking at vote frequency over the last five statewide elections.

     “When we look at these likely or chronic voters, McCain’s lead is even greater – a 17-point margin,” Corbello said. “That’s an indication that high voter turnout would benefit Obama, while low turnout would help McCain.”

     The poll indicates that blacks and whites are clearly polarized in the election with McCain getting the largest share of the white vote (72.8%) and Obama getting 85.4 percent of the black vote. Corbello said that to the extent there is any racial crossover voting, it appears to come only from a small portion of white voters (17.1%) who support Obama.

     Each candidate also appears to get overwhelming support among voters identifying their party affiliation. McCain garners the support of about 89 percent of self-identified Republications, and Obama about 70 percent among self-identified Democrats. McCain cuts into the Democratic vote by 18 percent and leads Obama 52 percent to 27 percent among pure independents, while Obama gets only minimal support from Republicans at seven percent.

U.S. Senate campaign

     The relative position of the candidates in the U.S. Senate campaign between Kennedy and Landrieu is very different from the situation in the presidential race in Louisiana, Corbello reports.

     “McCain’s coattails in Louisiana do not appear to be doing Kennedy much good,” said Corbello, noting that Landrieu leads the challenger 53 percent to 34 percent, a 19-point margin. The poll indicates that Kennedy trails Landrieu among both chronic and non-chronic voters alike.

     “Black voters monolithically support Landrieu (83%), and she runs only about six points behind Kennedy among white voters.” Corbello said. “When we combine the race and gender demographics, the only group in which Kennedy leads Landrieu is white males.

Priority issues evaluated

     The poll also asked voters to rate selected issues for the next president on a priority list from high to medium to low or no priority. Ordering those issues from first to last according to the percentage of respondents who say that an issue should be a high priority, voters in the survey ranked “protecting Social Security” as the top concern, followed by “balancing the federal budget,” and “drilling for offshore oil” and “protection from illegal immigration.”

     Corbello said “middle of the pack” priorities included the war in Iraq, (56%), developing a national health care system and paying down the national debt (50%) Considered low or no priority are better environmental protection, cutting taxes, ending abortion and providing cash to troubled banking institutions. 

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