A new poll shows two Republicans leading Louisiana's U.S. Senate race and rising approval for Gov. John Bel Edwards.
Veteran pollster Bernie Pinsonat released the results Wednesday morning showing Republicans state Treasurer John Kennedy and 3rd District Congressman Charles Boustany of Lafayette leading pack followed by Democrats Caroline Fayard of New Orleans and Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell of Elm Grove.
"It's going to be a close, interesting race that's going to go down to the wire," said Pinsonat of Southern Media & Opinion Research. Pinsonat said the poll was commissioned by about 30 subscribers — business people and lobbyists — with no input from any candidate. Five hundred likely voters participated in the poll conducted Sept. 15-17.
Kennedy, of Madisonville, considered the early front-runner, continued hold onto his lead at 16.9 percent, but he was followed closely by Boustany at 15.2 percent.
Fayard, an attorney and business woman, was next at 11.4 percent followed by Campbell at 9.2 percent and 4th District Congressman John Fleming, R-Minden, at 8.3 percent
Others are struggling to gain traction, according to the poll, with retired Col. Rob Maness, R-Madisonville, at 3.3 percent and white supremacist David Duke favored by 3.1 percent of those polled in the 24-candidate race.
Former Republican Congressman Joseph Cao tallied 1.7 percent, Lafayette Democrat and oil and gas man Josh Pellerin earned 1.7 percent, former state Rep. Troy Hebert, who has no party affiliation, received 0.8 percent and Republican economic developer Abhay Patel of New Orleans received 0.4 percent.
More than a quarter of those surveyed — 26.2 percent — remain undecided.
All are vying to replace Republican Sen. David Vitter, who isn't seeking reelection.
Only those candidates who hold, have held or run for elected office or filed campaign finance reports showing the ability to raise and spend money were included in the survey, Pinsonat said.
Edwards' approval ratings rose to 63 percent among those polled, considerably higher than the 50 percent who said he was doing a good job in a spring poll conducted by Southern Media.
Pinsonat attributed the rise to the governor's handling of two floods and a summer of violence and protests in Baton Rouge.
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1
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