Who's ahead in Louisiana's race for U.S. Senate? Depends on the pollster

Who's ahead in Louisiana's race for U.S. Senate? Depends on the pollster

Which candidate has the lead in Louisiana's closely watched U.S. Senate race can boil down to how pollsters interpret their numbers.The FOX 8 News/Raycom Media poll of 605 registered voters illustrates that point, giving incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu the edge over Republican challenger Bill Cassidy, 36% to 32%. Rob Maness garners six percent in the poll by Multi-Quest, Int'l.

However, pollsters often manipulate their numbers in a way that dramatically alters the landscape.Consider only the 81% of voters who said they were "extremely" or "very" interested in the race and Cassidy assumes a slight lead, 36.2% to Landrieu's 35.6%.

Under that scenario, Maness rises to 8%.A potential runoff looks even more dramatically different. While the raw numbers gave Cassidy a lead, 43%-40%, the tighter sample of interested voters provides a wider margin, 48%-42%.Some pollsters advocate trimming the sample to "likely" voters to produce a more accurate picture of actual voters.

However, there is a school of thought that holds true only in the very late stages of a campaign, the last week or so.

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