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Gov. John Bel Edwards supporters claps and celebrates with supporters at his election party at the Renaissance Hotel on Oct. 12, 2019.

All the pollsters had Gov. John Bel Edwards outpolling his two opponents, U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham and businessman Eddie Rispone, even when adding together the Republicans' totals. They were wrong, every last one of them.

Some of them were more wrong than others. Verne Kennedy, the very same pollster who predicted earlier in the year President Donald J. Trump’s approval ratings were plummeting in Louisiana, had Edwards winning the primary with 55%.

Despite Edwards enjoying mostly favorable media coverage and having a ton of cash, a majority of Louisiana voters rejected him. Rispone and Abraham received a total of 51%, with Edwards getting only 46.6%.

Edwards’ apologists blame the governor’s disappointing night on increased turnout motivated by Trump’s rally the night before the election. Others bemoan the fact the state has become more “partisan.” If by becoming more partisan you mean they resoundingly reject the wackiness of the increasingly hard-left leaning Democratic Party, then yes, they are more partisan.

Edwards’ party is widely unpopular with a majority of Louisiana voters. And as each day passes, it seems to become more so. Maybe Edwards calculated his pro-life credentials would dilute the deep resentment and mistrust so many in our state have for his party. It hasn’t.

National Democrats are now so extreme, it’s made it close to impossible for many in Louisiana, who typically lean right, to do anything but reject the Dems' agenda and anyone associated with it. Given the Democrats' soft embrace of infanticide, flirting with socialism and open borders, and pushing for impeachment without justification, Edwards’ party affiliation must feel like a weight around the governor’s neck, making it seem impossible for him to swim to the top. Edwards may not be as extreme as the party he chose to align himself with, but for many voters, that “D” by his name is all they need to look elsewhere.

But Edwards is hardly the victim here. With the exception of his unblemished pro-life record, the incumbent has governed to the left on most other matters. He signed an executive order creating special status and privilege for the LGBTQ community, making it easier for them to sue. The order was struck down by the Louisiana Supreme Court.

Edwards has exploded the size of government and signed tax legislation sucking billions out of the private sector. Louisiana now has its largest budget in history. He’s launched a war on business on many fronts, working in conjunction with trial lawyers and anti-development groups. While Edwards’ party affiliation is clearly a liability, what may turn voters off most about the Democrat is his dismal economic record. Edwards presided over a state that was the only one in the nation to lose jobs in the past year. Indefensible.

Dan Fagan: Why is John Bel Edwards doing so well? 'It doesn’t make a lot of sense'

In fairness to Edwards, his economic record and unpopular party affiliation may be the least of the incumbent’s problems. There seems to be a sense of frustration with voters about government, politicians and the status quo. The rise of the word “swamp” describing the political process is telling. Voters understand there’s too much undue influence from special interests, power brokers and the well-connected in government. Whether the politicians are Democrat or Republican, many regard them as swamp creatures as government continues to grow its tentacles and award special treatment to big donors.

Trump rode this sentiment to victory, selling himself as a successful businessman who can’t be bought. He fancied himself as the ultimate superhero, destined to end the rule of the swamp creatures. Whether Trump’s success inspired Rispone to run is a question only the wealthy Baton Rouge businessman can answer. Rispone has not been shy about comparing himself to Trump.

Rispone has the same businessman, nonpolitician vibe as Trump. It’s a good thing during a time when swamp creatures are greater in number and more unpopular than ever. In a state that’s last in just about everything, Edwards the incumbent versus Rispone the outsider is not a match-up favoring the governor. With his baggage of having an embarrassing economic record and an unpopular party affiliation, Edwards must now be considered the underdog in the race regardless of what the pollsters say.

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