Here are the observations from UNO's professor of political science, Dr. Ed Chervenak:
John Fortunato enjoys a double-digit lead over Joe Lopinto in both the October 2017 and the March 2018 IVR polls. The March survey indicates that Fortunato’s numbers have risen slightly from what he received in the October poll. However, Lopinto has closed the gap to some extent. This is due to the fact that most of the people who were in the undecided category in the October survey have shifted towards Lopinto in the last several months.
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Fortunato was more likely to be supported by males and females in both polls. His numbers are up among men in the March poll, but his support among women is unchanged from last fall. In the October IVR poll, men were equally split between voting for Fortunato and being undecided in their preference. Since then, Fortunato picked up 10 percent more males while Lopinto realized a 15 percentage point increase among men.
Women are more likely to back Lopinto today than they were last fall. His support among women has risen by 11 percentage points while the percentage of undecided women fell by 10 percentage points. One quarter of females remain undecided in who they would vote for sheriff.
Fortunato enjoys higher levels of support across all age categories in both polls. However, his margins have narrowed since the fall, particularly among older voters. A majority of younger respondents in October were unsure of who they would vote for. That number is down to 31 percent in the latest poll and the chart illustrates that the bulk of the undecided Millennials have moved into Lopinto’s column.
Both Fortunato and Lopinto realized an increase of 5 percentage points among respondents age 35 to 54. Nonetheless, Fortunato continues to enjoy the majority of support from this age group.
However, Lopinto is performing much better with the oldest age cohort in the March 2018 poll than he did in the fall. His support among respondents age 55 and older has risen from 23 percent to 40 percent while Fortunato’s numbers are basically unchanged. Older registered voters are a key demographic when it comes to elections since they are more likely to be chronic voters who faithfully show up in low turnout elections.
A comparison of the two polls discloses there have been significant shifts in voter preference across all racial categories. Nearly six-in-ten blacks expressed no favorite in October, but that same percentage now prefers Fortunato. In fact, blacks favor Fortunato over Lopinto by a 3 to 1 margin. One fifth of blacks are still noncommittal.
A majority of whites in the October poll said they supported Fortunato, compared to less than one-quarter who preferred Lopinto. Those numbers have changed as Fortunato has lost support among white respondents while Lopinto has gained traction with them. Nearly one-infive whites are still undecided.
Non-black minorities in the October poll were highly unsure of which candidate they preferred. As the chart illustrates, more of them expressed being undecided than said they supported a candidate. In the March poll, relatively equal percentages of non-black minorities favor both candidates and are not settled on a candidate.
In the October poll, Fortunato enjoyed more support than Lopinto among Democrats, Republicans, and Other Party/Independents. Fortunato has increased his lead over Lopinto among Democrats, has lost much of his lead with Republicans, and is now behind Lopinto among Other Party/Independents.
Nearly four-in-ten Democrats expressed support for Fortunato in the fall while nearly six-in-ten now say they favor him. Lopinto’s support among Democrats only rose four percentage points.
Democrats are one-half as likely to be undecided in the March poll as they were in the October poll.
Fortunato has seen a slight uptick in backing among Republicans, but Lopinto has enjoyed significant growth in Republican support. Fortunato was up by 20 percentage points over Lopinto with Republicans in the fall poll, but is now only six points ahead. It appears that many of the Republican undecided in the fall now favor Lopinto.
Lopinto is now the candidate of choice for Other Party/Independents. While Fortunato enjoyed the support of a majority of these folks in the October poll, it is down by almost half. At the same time, support for Lopinto has doubled over the last several months. Other Party/Independents are also more undecided now than when they were asked in October When respondents are broken along Eastbank and Westbank residency, both polls show Fortunato besting Lopinto on both sides of the river. Lopinto, however, has made significant
gains in both areas of the parish. His support is up in the Eastbank by 50 percent (24 percent to 36 percent) and he doubled his support on the Westbank since the fall survey. Fortunato did not realize any growth in support on the Eastbank across the two surveys. However, he now enjoys the majority of support from Westbank residents.