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

Published: Oct. 23, 2014 at 12:10 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 23, 2014 at 4:06 PM CDT
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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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