Are you like me when you heard about a poll showing Republican President Donald J. Trump’s numbers plunging in Louisiana? You probably thought that can’t be right.
Pollster Verne Kennedy conducted the survey showing Trump’s numbers dropping from the 58% support he received during his 2016 election to only 47%. Kennedy’s poll also showed 54% surveyed in Louisiana favored electing someone other than Trump.
How could things have changed so drastically for a guy who got more votes in a statewide election than anyone, ever, in the history of Louisiana?
Kennedy’s poll, conducted back in April for a group of businessmen that included the owner of The Advocate, John Georges, was released to the paper last week.
Kennedy admits his poll contradicts other surveys. The polling organization Five Thirty Eight conducted a poll last month showing Trump’s more popular in Louisiana than 46 other states. The poll was conducted in May, a month after Kennedy’s.
Morning Consult conducted a poll in Louisiana during the same month as Kennedy’s and found Trump had a 56% approval rating. And Morning Consult’s latest survey, released last week, found Louisiana is one of nine states where Trump has a double-digit positive net approval rating. Trump currently has a plus-17 approval rating in Louisiana, according to the organization. That’s higher than 47 other states.
Brian Trascher, who served as one of Trump’s state co-chairman, says it’s obvious what the Kennedy poll is all about — to keep the president out of Louisiana’s governor’s race.
“The president’s definitely going to come down and endorse and hold a rally for the Republican candidate. The president wants this governorship back,” Trascher said .
Lionel Rainey, campaign consultant for Republican gubernatorial candidate Ralph Abraham, says Kennedy’s poll is laughable.
“Everybody knows Donald Trump is loved in the state. They need to do everything they can to keep Trump from campaigning for Abraham. They know that if and when Donald Trump comes to Louisiana and stumps for Abraham, they know it’s over,” Rainey said.
An independent survey released last week by pollster Verne Kennedy showed a clear majority of Louisiana voters don't want Donald Trump to win …
Kennedy’s poll also shows Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, with a sizable lead over Abraham in a head-to-head race by a margin of 45% to 28%. But Rainey says their internal poll shows Abraham and Edwards in a virtual tie in a head-to-head race.
“We’re winning this race, and they know we’re winning this race, which is why they have to put out an inaccurate poll that’s three months old to try to stop the bleeding,” Rainey said.
Kennedy says only half of black respondents said they would vote for Edwards in the fall. Kennedy says typically, 90% of blacks vote Democrat, so he adjusted the African American response in his poll from 50% to 90%.
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“The only difference between mine and the other polls is we adjust that and it brings him (Edwards) up significantly, “ said Kennedy.
Kennedy denied he’s trying to help Edwards with his poll.
“If anyone is trying to help Edwards, it’s not what I’m doing. It may be that some in the group that paid for the poll said, well, all the other surveys are only showing raw numbers, and they’re not looking at the African-American vote, and maybe we should release it. I do not know why they released it,“ Kennedy said.
As you might expect, the Louisiana Republican Party leadership is highly suspicious of the Kennedy poll. "This poll is a desperate cry from a failed Governor. The people of Louisiana know they are being left behind and it's going to take a lot more than imaginary numbers to change their minds,” said Jason Harbison, Communications Director for the Louisiana Republican Party.
Republicans claiming the Kennedy poll is designed to keep Trump from campaigning in Louisiana is pure speculation. And there is no proof Edwards has ties to the Kennedy poll.
But it’s also highly questionable that the president’s overwhelming popularity in Louisiana has plunged just because a single pollster says so. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time a pollster got it wrong when it comes to Trump.
Email Dan Fagan at firstname.lastname@example.org.