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U.S. Representative Ralph Abraham, R-La., left, listens as Gov. John Bel Edwards, right, speaks and moderator Robert Travis Scott, Public Affairs Research Council president, center, looks on during the non-partisan PAR gubernatorial forum held Thursday, April 11, 2019 at Crown Plaza Hotel Baton Rouge. Candidate Eddie Rispone had a prior engagement.

If the people looking to unseat Gov. John Bel Edwards this fall were hoping that LSU’s new Louisiana Survey might offer them some ammunition, they must be pretty disappointed.

On issues ranging from expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to raising the minimum wage, the poll by the Manship School’s Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs shows that Edwards’ positions are pretty popular with Louisianans, even though he’s a Democrat and the majority of them tend to vote Republican.

Grace Notes: Poll gives John Bel Edwards plenty of reasons to talk Medicaid expansion

Latest up is criminal justice reform.

Earlier in his term, Edwards spearheaded a move to reduce Louisiana’s once nation-leading incarceration rate. The state now ranks 2nd, not 1st, which is at least a little bit of progress. His legislative package passed with a decent level of support from Republicans, which mirrors what’s happening nationally. In other states and in Washington, religious and small-government conservatives have been finding common ground with social justice-oriented progressives on the issue for years now.

Stephanie Grace: Higher minimum wage has wide support. Do lawmakers care?

But there are always skeptics ready to pounce at news of a few bad apples getting through a system that is helping many others reenter society and rebuild their lives. In Louisiana, the chief critics have been U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, who also fought the federal bill that President Donald Trump recently backed, and Attorney General Jeff Landry.

So how is the issue playing with voters? Overall, pretty well, according to the LSU poll, which found that 70 percent of those surveyed approve of the state’s reforms. That’s up from 61 percent the previous year, and the researchers noted that the growth in approval is “especially strong” among Republicans and independents.

So chalk this up as one more issue that Edwards can highlight without worrying too much about the consequences.


Follow Stephanie Grace on Twitter, @stephgracela.