- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 20, 2014

A new poll has GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy up by 15 points over Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu ahead of their Dec. 6 runoff for U.S. Senate in Louisiana.

Among likely voters, Mr. Cassidy leads 56 percent to 41 percent over Ms. Landrieu in the runoff contest after neither candidate was able to eclipse the 50 percent mark on election day, Nov. 4, according to the Rasmussen poll.

In a bid to muster any kind of momentum, Ms. Landrieu tried — and failed — to corral enough of her Democratic colleagues earlier this week to advance a measure authorizing the construction of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline. A Cassidy-sponsored bill authorizing the pipeline cleared the GOP-controlled House last week on a bipartisan basis.

But numbers in the poll indicate that Ms. Landrieu’s strategy might have been flawed to begin with.

Seven in 10 likely voters in the state favor building the pipeline, including 52 percent who strongly favor it.

But among those who strongly favor building the pipeline, Mr. Cassidy has an overwhelming 58-point lead over Ms. Landrieu, 78 percent to 20 percent. Ms. Landrieu leads by 14 points, 54 percent to 40 percent, among those who “somewhat” favor it and is “far ahead” among voters who oppose the project, according to Rasmussen.

Mr. Cassidy also appears to be benefiting from significant crossover support. Only about three-quarters of the state’s Democrats are backing Ms. Landrieu, while 21 percent of Democrats and 92 percent of Republicans support Mr. Cassidy.

And with the Republican Senate majority for the next Congress already secured on election night, outside Democratic groups haven’t been rushing to assist Ms. Landrieu, whose likely loss would give the GOP control of 54 seats in the Senate come January.

Prior to the Senate vote on the pipeline Tuesday, University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato’s “Crystal Ball,” a political forecasting website, already changed the race’s rating from “leans Republican” to “likely Republican.”

The survey of 1,000 likely voters was taken Nov. 16-19 and has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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