Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni is in real danger of being removed from office by voters following his admission that he sent explicit text messages to a 17-year-old, according to a new WWL-TV/The New Orleans Advocate Poll.
Nearly half of those polled said they would "definitely sign" a recall petition, said Ron Faucheux of the Clarus Research Group, which was hired by the two organizations to conduct the poll. Pollsters interviewed 501 people registered to vote in Jefferson Parish.
To get a recall on the ballot, one-third of the parish's registered voters would need to sign the petition, which calls for an election on the question of removing Yenni from office. The petition was filed last week.
All told, 69 percent of those polled said they would "probably" or "definitely" sign the petition, and if an election were called, an overwhelming 72 percent of registered voters would favor tossing the first-term parish president from his post, the poll found. Just 13 percent would vote for Yenni to stay in office.
The WWL-TV/ Advocate poll comes on the heels of a University of New Orleans survey released last week that found 79 percent of Jefferson Parish voters want Yenni to resign. That poll did not examine how many people would sign a recall petition.
Removing politicians from office in Louisiana is notoriously difficult, and Faucheux cautioned that the outcome of the recall effort, led by Metairie attorney Robert Evans III, will depend on how well organized the campaign is. However, the early numbers on the public's mood in the wake of the sexting scandal should give Yenni "a lot to worry about," Faucheux said.
"It tells him nothing that he's done so far has worked publicly," Faucheux said. "It tells him that a very strong majority of voters in the parish want him out of office. And it would tell him if the other side gets organized - and they do it right- they could actually recall him, which I think puts some added pressure on him to get out on his own."
Yenni so far has resisted calls from nearly all of the parish's public officials for him to step down.
WWL-TV and The New Orleans Advocate will release the rest of the poll's findings at 10 p.m. Tuesday. Check back then for more.