Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards' job approval rating in Louisiana has reached 65 percent — outpacing Republican U.S. Sens. John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy, as well as U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise in their home state, according to a new poll out from Southern Media & Opinion Research this week.
"I know that polls are snapshots. You'd rather have a good number than a bad number and 65 is great but we've got to keep working every single day," Edwards said on his monthly radio show, responding to news of the findings. "It reaffirms that the people of Louisiana appreciate the moderate balanced approach that we've taken."
Edwards' job approval in the same poll in May placed him at about 54 percent.
"The historic trend since his election shows his job ratings are apparently affected by legislative sessions with talk of taxes and budget deficits," pollster Bernie Pinsonat wrote in his summary of the findings.
Edwards is preparing to call lawmakers early next year into their sixth special session since he took office in January 2016 to address a looming $1 billion-plus shortfall.
Edwards received positive ratings among 82 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of those who identified as independents and 44 percent of Republicans.
The SMOR poll was based on 500 likely Louisiana voters and conducted by land line and cell phone Nov. 28-30. The margin of error is 4.4 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence. The poll was funded by SMOR's private subscribers.
About 51 percent of respondents gave positive marks to Kennedy, who was elected to the Senate last year after serving as state treasurer. Cassidy, who was elected in 2014, has a 45 percent approval rating, according to the poll. Scalise, who is the No. 3 ranking member among Republican leadership in the House and Louisiana's longest-serving congressman, received a 55 percent job approval rating. Scalise narrowly survived a mass shooting near Washington while practicing for a charity baseball game over the summer and has positioned himself as a close ally of President Donald Trump.
Trump, who received more votes in the presidential election than any candidate ever appearing on a Louisiana ballot, received positive marks from 48 percent of the poll's respondents.
Other findings in the poll:
- On whether Louisiana is heading in the "right" direction or "wrong" direction, about 36 percent of respondents said "right," while nearly 45 percent said "wrong." Another 19 percent were not sure. A majority of Republicans said the state's moving in the wrong direction (55 percent), compared to 37 percent of Democrats.
- Voters are split between Edwards and House Republicans when it comes to saying who is right in the ongoing standoff over the state budget. About 45.9 percent of respondents sided with Edwards when prompted to say whether they agree with him that state spending cannot be cut without a dramatic impact on state services. About 45.8 percent say that they agree with Republican lawmakers who say deeper cuts can be made without drastically affecting services. About 8.3 percent said they were not sure.
- Voters were similarly split over Trump and Congress' attempts to repeal and replace the federal Affordable Care Act, with 48.1 percent of respondents saying that the current system needs to be overhauled and 47.2 percent saying that they prefer Obamacare stay in place. Nearly 5 percent said they were not sure.