The first thought that comes to mind may be: Is it that close? The runoff in Louisiana’s Senate race hasn’t attracted the larger national pollsters, perhaps because of the trouncing that incumbent Mary Landrieu is widely presumed to have coming. Instead, newcomer pollsters such as Vox Populi and Gravis Marketing have filled the gap, both of which found this week that challenging Republican Bill Cassidy has a double-digit lead over the Democrat. VP puts the gap at eleven points last night, almost half of that shown by Gravis earlier in the week:

A new Louisiana survey released by Vox Populi Polling today found that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bill Cassidy leads Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu 53 to 42 percent, with 5 percent unsure. In addition, Cassidy is up big with Independents, winning with them 58 to 31 percent over Landrieu. Cassidy has seen a big bump after the Nov. 4 open primary. In our recent Oct. 13-14 survey, Cassidy led Landrieu 48 to 44 percent in a head-to-head, with 8 percent unsure.

On the heels of last night’s United States Senate vote on the Keystone XL Pipeline, it is interesting to note that voters aren’t moved by Mary Landrieu’s efforts to bring the legislation before the Senate for a floor vote. When asked if it made voters more likely to vote for the incumbent Democrat, 39 percent said it made them more likely to vote for Bill Cassidy and 32 percent said it made them more likely to vote for Mary Landrieu.

The argument for having one Senator in each party for Louisiana doesn’t have much traction either. Forty percent of voters said the new Republican majority made them more inclined to vote for Cassidy, while only 34% said it made them lean more toward Landrieu.

When it comes to issues, Landrieu very clearly has one big problem: Barack Obama. Obama has a dismal 38/61 job approval rating, and his performance is the top issue among a plurality of voters in this poll (23%). In close second comes ObamaCare (22%), accounting for almost half of the sample. A majority of 52% consider ObamaCare a failure, while only 20% consider it a success, and 39% say they have someone close to them who’s been hurt by the law. Even “economy and jobs” comes in a distant third at 12%. The Democratic priorities in this cycle — immigration, the environment, and “social issues” — get a combined 16%, far below either Obama or ObamaCare.

The earlier Gravis Marketing poll showed Landrieu down by 21 points rather than 11. The sample in that poll was actually leaned a little more Democratic than this survey. It had a D/R/I of 44/36/20, while the VP poll is 40/37/24 (rounding issue).  VP is a Republican-oriented pollster, which includes Mary Cheney among its partners. Normally, one might wait to draw conclusions from polling until some of the larger, independent pollsters produced data by which to calculate the reliability of these less-experienced firms, but so far there isn’t much indication that we’ll see any such polling. The race is on December 6th, and no reliable polling can be done over the holidays. If the larger and more well-known pollsters are going to get involved in this race, it will have to be soon.

And if they don’t bother to get into the only race left from the midterm election, that will tell us something, too.