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U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) official portrait
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D)
PPP's making their way through all the tough Senate seats Democrats have to hold next year, and now they're up to Louisiana, where Mary Landrieu is seeking a fourth term. Guess what? The news is remarkably good, much like it was in Alaska, another top GOP target. Indeed, Landrieu's job approval rating now stands at 47-45, which seems fairly remarkable given the sharp red turn her state has taken. And that's also a healthy recovery from August of 2010, when she had a lousy 41-53 score as Democrats were on their way to an absolute drubbing at the polls.

So speaking of the polls, how does Landrieu actually fare against some hypothetical candidates? (No Republicans have declared yet.) Turns out, she leads all of them, and pretty healthily, too. Note that the numbers in parentheses represent each potential opponent's favorability rating (or in the case of Jindal, job approval):

• 46-43 vs. Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne (41-23)

• 48-42 vs. Rep. Charles Boustany (22-25)

• 49-41 vs. Gov. Bobby Jindal (37-57)

• 48-39 vs. ex-Rep. Jeff Landry (29-27)

• 48-38 vs. Rep. Steve Scalise (21-24)

• 50-40 vs. Rep. Bill Cassidy (19-24)

• 50-38 vs. Rep. John Fleming (20-21)

There are a few themes and observations worth pointing out here. First and most important is that Landrieu is very close to or just at 50 percent against all but one potential candidate, something that has to make her feel good. It'll be a dogfight to make sure she does in fact claw her way to 50%+1, no doubt about it, but I'll take these numbers. There's plenty more to discuss, however, below the fold.

Related to this, all the various current and former congressmen are mostly unknown. That means they have upside potential, but they may first have to contend with an ugly fight to be their party's standard-bearer, particularly if the notorious teabagger Landry decides to go kamikaze on their asses. I shouldn't use that phrasing, though, because Landry could very well win—and amusingly, he's doing a touch better than establishment fave Bill Cassidy, who sits at the bottom of the pile.

Speaking of the bottom of the pile, man do Bobby Jindal's numbers suck. Gov. Kenneth the Page has seen his approval rating absolutely plummet. Tom Jensen points out that when that old 2010 poll referenced above was conducted, Jindal owned a gaudy 58-34 approval score, one of the best in the country among governors. Now his 37-57 is among the very worst. It doesn't matter either way, though, since Jindal's already said he won't run.

By contrast, though, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne looks quite good against Landrieu, but I have to wonder if the huge crossover support he currently earns from Democrats could possibly survive a heated partisan campaign. Yes, party ID in Louisiana, where party switching is common, tends to be much more fluid than anywhere else in the country. But right now, Dardenne has almost identical favorability scores from Republicans (42-25) and Democrats (43-22). I don't think that's sustainable, but what's more, Dardenne hasn't even been mentioned as a possible candidate—and he didn't run in 2008, either, when his name also came up.

As I said above, Landrieu will have a hell of a race on her hands no matter what happens, but these are the kind of initial numbers you can only hope for. And while you're at it, hope for a brutal fight between Republicans, too. Louisiana doesn't conduct a traditional primary, but rather all candidates from all parties appear on the November ballot, with a December runoff between the top two vote-getters if no one scores more than 50 percent. Landrieu, as the only Dem in the field, is all but guaranteed a spot in the runoff; a GOP meltdown over who gets to oppose her in that one-month sprint would only help our chances, which already appear better than expected.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 11:13 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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