Cook Report Downgrades Vitter’s Louisiana Senate Race To ‘Lean Republican’

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The Cook Report has now changed its rating in the Louisiana Senate race, where Republican Sen. David Vitter is seeking a second term, from “Likely Republican” to the less safe “Lean Republican.”

The Cook Report cites three factors that could drag Vitter down a bit: His tough job balancing the needs of Gulf Coast recovery with the needs of the oil and gas industry in the BP spill; his mishandling of a case involving a staffer who resigned in June after ABC News reported that he had assaulted an ex-girlfriend in 2008; and the fact that Vitter has now attracted a primary challenger, former state Supreme Court Justice Chet Traylor. That primary is August 28.

In a less hospitable political climate for Republicans, these three events might combine to render Vitter extremely vulnerable, even in Louisiana. However, Vitter is not without his strengths and he does get to run on friendly terrain. We’ll keep a close watch on this to see whether any or all of the recent events have an impact, but for now it seems this race no longer belongs in the Likely Republican column, so it is moving to Lean Republican.

The TPM Poll Average for the general election gives Vitter a lead over Democratic Rep. Charlie Melancon, 49.6-34.0.