A new poll on the upcoming governor’s race could serve as a reality check for Gov. John Bel Edwards.
While the Democratic governor beat Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter in decisive fashion four years ago, just 38 percent of the likely voters interviewed recently by JMC Analytics and Polling for Harris, Deville & Associates said they’d vote for him if the 2019 election were held today.
That’s more than support for either of his declared Republican opponents, and it’s more than their combined take. The poll found that 23 percent back U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, and seven percent support Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone.
But it’s less than the total he’d need, 50 percent plus one, to avoid a runoff. For an incumbent seeking reelection, doing so is especially important, since scoring support from less than a majority of voters is a sign of trouble (about a third of the voters interviewed were undecided).
This poll doesn’t necessarily predict he’ll fall short, though. Edwards’ 38 percent in the three-way race, and his 40 and 41 percent in head-to-head runoff scenarios against either GOP challenger, basically match the usual Democratic take in a generic party face-off in Louisiana. That suggests voters who lean Democratic remain all in, but that those who swing Republican are either dug in against him or remain up for grabs.
The bad news for Edwards is that he still needs to win over enough of those Republican-leaning voters to reach the magic number on October 12. The good news for the governor is that he’s done it before.