Back in April, the Louisiana Democratic Party released an attack ad pitched to reminding Louisiana voters of incumbent Senator David Vitter's (R-La.) "Forgotten Crimes" -- specifically, his prostitution scandals. At the time, I found the ad to be a wee bit over-the-top in tone and content (it included a teasing, crime scene "dramatization" with a near crotch-shot) given the fact that these scandals were, in my estimation, unforgettable.
Well, I owe the Louisiana Democratic Party a big fat apology, because as it turns out, a sizable portion of the electorate has no knowledge of Vitter's past. Per Brian Beutler, at TPM:
New Louisiana polling data to be released later today shows David Vitter maintaining a double digit lead over his likely rival, Rep. Charlie Melancon, and benefiting from the fact that the electorate there remains largely in the dark about his scandals.
Public Policy Polling surveyed 403 likely voters from August 21-22 and found that, in a two way race, 41 percent now say they'd vote for Melancon, 51 would choose Vitter, and 8 percent remain undecided. The latest TPM PollTracker average gives Vitter a nearly 13 point margin over Melancon. In June, PPP found Vitter ahead 46-37. As of now there are multiple third party candidates in the race. The winner must receive a plurality of the votes.
Yesterday, PPP unveiled a handful of the toplines of this same poll, suggesting that a great number of voters are still unaware of Vitter's recent travails, including prostitution scandals, and the more recent discovery that he knowingly employed a top aide for two years after the aide attacked his girlfriend with a knife. Only 21 percent say Vitter is a "good model" of Christian living. But 44 percent say he's not a good model, and 35 percent say they don't know.
Given the fact that Chet Traylor jumped into the GOP primary contest at the last minute for the precise reason that Vitter was so scandal-tainted, this comes as something of a surprise. For my part, I can't imagine that I know anyone who, if asked, "Tell me the first thing that comes to mind when I say 'David Vitter,'" wouldn't respond with "prostitutes" or "diapers" or "DC madam."
The good news for Melancon (who has been pressing heavily on the more recent Brent Furer matter) is that if he finds himself down in the polls at the moment, he might be able to make up some ground by enlightening that 35% that is somehow unaware of Vitter's past. In the matter of my evaluation of the Louisiana Democrats' "Forgotten Crimes" ad, however, I was clearly wrong, and so, for them, I'll cue up the appropriate Social Distortion song.
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