There may not be much enthusiasm over the New Orleans mayor's race, but there's plenty of suspense. According to a new poll commissioned for The New Orleans Advocate and WWL-TV, City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell and former Municipal Court Judge Desiree Charbonnet are in a statistical tie for first place, with former Civil District Court Judge Michael Bagneris lapping at their heels. Any two of the three could make it into the all-but-guaranteed runoff.
The opposite is true of contests for the City Council's top posts, the two at-large seats. The poll of 500 registered voters, conducted by Clarus Research Group Sept. 25-27, gave huge leads to one candidate in each race, state Rep. Helena Moreno for the Division 1 seat being vacated by Stacy Head and Jason Williams for reelection in Division 2.
Neither topped the 50 percent threshold needed to win outright in the Oct. 14 primary, but both showed such commanding leads that it's an entirely likely possibility.
Moreno, a higher-than-usual profile legislator who was once a television news anchor and who has passed major legislation on domestic violence, was the choice of 45 percent of those polled. Next came her legislative colleague Joe Bouie, who started campaigning long after Moreno had locked up support from donors and fellow politicians, with 18 percent. If you combine Bouie's total and those of two other opponents, Eldon Anderson and Kenneth Cutno, Moreno still comes out on top by 17 points.
Williams, who could have been a top contender for mayor and who may challenge District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro in 2020, scored 40 percent, far ahead of four challengers who each polled in the single digits. He beats his collective field of opponents by 19 points in the poll.
The big question in the two New Orleans City Council at-large races may not be who wins but …
In both cases, there are theoretically enough undecided voters — 27 percent in Division 1 and 39 percent in Division 2 — to change things. But that's not what usually happens this late in the game. Not when other candidates are showing no sign of momentum, and not when the races are as low temperature as these have been.
Which is not to say there won't be any suspense as the primary votes are counted. In this case, though, it won't be over whether the frontrunners have to go home, but whether they get to claim outright victory.
Early voting has become pretty popular, but truth be told, I prefer to wait until Election D…