Less than four weeks away from the election, almost half of likely Jefferson Parish voters are not sure which candidate for parish president they will support, a poll commissioned by five local businessmen has found.
However, among those who have decided, Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni holds a double-digit lead over the rest of the field, and those who haven’t made up their minds yet are leaning toward favoring him, as well, said the poll commissioned by businessmen Louis Lauricella, Ashton Ryan, Henry Shane, Jack Stumpf and Pete Vicari.
UNO political science professor Ed Chervenak said the biggest takeaway from the poll is that there seems to be a general lack of interest in the race to succeed Parish President John Young, who is running for lieutenant governor in the Oct. 24 primary. Yet Yenni should be cautiously optimistic about his cushion so close to the election, he said.
“A double-digit lead is significant several weeks before the election, but it’s difficult to know how that undecided vote will behave,” Chervenak said. “Will they even turn out, or will they go one way or another? That’s always the big unknown.”
The poll surveyed 630 people who voted in the 2012 presidential election or the 2014 Senate election and whose residences are spread evenly through the parish. It was conducted Sept. 28-29 by Baton Rouge-based JMC Analytics and Polling.
With a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points, the poll found that 44 percent of voters have not decided whom they favor.
Yenni, Kenner’s mayor since 2010 as well as the grandson and nephew of past Jefferson Parish presidents, came in at 32 percent, followed by Elton Lagasse, an at-large Parish Council member and former superintendent of the parish’s public school system, at 18 percent.
Al Morella, Robin Daldegan Christiana and Vincent De Salvo, none of whom has held a major political office, finished far back at 3 percent, 2 percent and 1 percent, respectively.
Among those who said they were undecided, 39 percent indicated they were leaning toward voting for Yenni, with 23 percent leaning toward Lagasse, 5 percent for Morella, 3 percent for Christiana, 2 percent for De Salvo and 28 percent totally undecided.
The poll noted that Yenni had his biggest lead on the parish’s east bank, particularly in the council district covering Kenner. On the West Bank, support was more evenly divided between Yenni and Lagasse.
Chervenak said it made sense that Yenni and Lagasse are leading the field in an election that apparently isn’t getting much attention from the public. Both are veteran politicos.
However, he said, “There’s just not typical interest in politics (ahead of the Oct. 24 primary) like we usually associate with Louisiana politics.”