(The Center Square) — U.S. Sen. John Kennedy is a slam dunk for reelection, significantly outpacing all competitors in both fundraising and public support.
While Kennedy’s Democratic challengers are predicting a runoff following the Nov. 8 primary, an October poll and Kennedy’s massive fundraising advantage ultimately make a Democratic Louisiana senator a highly unlikely prospect.
A Public Policy Polling survey of 633 likely voters conducted Oct. 10-11 found 53% planned to vote for Kennedy "if the election was today." Former fighter pilot Luke Mixon, a Democrat supported by Gov. John Bel Edwards, was backed by 16%, while communications consultant Gary Chambers garnered 8%. Democrat Syrita Steib received 6% support, and 14% were undecided.
Kennedy’s 37-point lead in October is consistent with the only two other polls conducted on the race this year, a Echelon Insights survey of 506 likely voters that gave him a 35-point lead in September, and a JMC Analytics poll of 600 likely voters in March that showed the incumbent with a 39-point advantage.
Kennedy also dwarfs his competitors in fundraising, having raised about 10 times as much as his challengers combined.
Through Oct. 19, campaign finance reports show Kennedy raised more than $38 million, and spent over $26 million, leaving him with about $13.5 million cash on hand — record numbers in Louisiana.
Mixon had the next highest total with about $2 million raised, of which he’s spent about $1.7 million, leaving him with $295,980, as of Oct. 19. Chambers raised $1.6 million and spent more than he raised. Chambers reported $54,500 cash on hand through the same date, according to Ballotpedia.
"I am humbled by the outpouring of support from folks across Louisiana," Kennedy said in a statement about his fundraising. "With inflation the highest it's been in 40 years, skyrocketing crime and energy prices through the roof, Louisianans know what is at stake. I promise to continue to fight for Louisiana and be a strong common-sense voice against the madness in Washington."
Political forecasters at FiveThirtyEight give Kennedy a 93% chance of returning to the Senate. The Cook Political Report rates the race "solid Republican."
Regardless, Mixon is forging ahead with television ad buys in the final weeks, while Chambers is laying off campaign staff and relying on a low-budget grassroots campaign.
Both men are predicting Kennedy will garner less than 50% of the vote on Nov. 8, which would trigger a run-off between the top two in the Dec. 10 general election.
"We are expanding our TV ads and (get out the vote) efforts statewide and launching radio ads ahead of early voting," Mixon told NOLA.com in a prepared statement. "Kennedy has hit a ceiling, our campaign is surging, and this race is heading to a runoff."
Like Mixon, Chambers believes voters will see his name alongside the incumbent on the December ballot.
"We’re doing things that are helping us all over the state and on the ground," he told the news site. "The most important issue I’m talking about is having a government that works for everybody, not just some."