State of Louisiana Flag

The latest independent poll of Louisiana voters holds good news for Gov. John Bel Edwards, but it’s far too early for any end zone dances. The survey of 500 “chronic” voters shows Edwards leading both his major Republican challengers combined — and 23 percentage points ahead of his closest opponent.

Although Edwards captures a majority of the “decided” vote in the poll, he remains just shy of a majority in what pollsters call “the raw numbers.”

The survey was taken Sept. 3-6 by veteran pollster Bernie Pinsonat for private subscribers. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4%, which is standard for statewide polls. Here are the numbers:

John Bel Edwards, 47%

Ralph Abraham, 24%

Eddie Rispone, 16%

Undecided, 14%

“If the governor’s election were held as this survey was completed — very likely Governor John Bel Edwards would be re-elected,” Pinsonat wrote in his analysis of the poll results. “With a month left, several key demographic factors will impact Edwards being re-elected or forced into a runoff.”

Those factors include turnout, of course, but equally important will be Edwards’ share of the white vote, which leans heavily Republican in Louisiana. The governor garnered 30% of the white vote in Pinsonat’s poll. On Election Day that would be just enough to put him over the top, assuming a proportionate turnout among black voters, who gave Edwards 87% in the survey.

Abraham led among white voters, but only barely — 34% to Edwards’ 30% and Rispone’s 21%. Pinsonat said Edwards’ ability to hold at least 30% of the white vote is “the big unknown” in the Oct. 12 primary. “Every vote that he gets above 30% among whites helps him win it all in the primary,” Pinsonat said. “If he falls below 30% among whites, his chances of having to go to a runoff increase.”

Other good news for Edwards in the poll: He leads Abraham and Rispone comfortably in all four major geographic areas of the state, and likewise among men, women and all age groups — particularly among voters over age 50, who historically are the most chronic voters. Edwards also leads among women by a huge margin — 54% to Abraham’s 21% and Rispone’s 13%.

Pinsonat notes that Abraham and Rispone “are both performing poorly” in metro New Orleans, where Edwards gets 57% to Abraham’s 19% and Rispone’s 10%.

Abraham is a congressman from Alto, in northeast Louisiana. Rispone is a wealthy Baton Rouge businessman making his first bid for public office. The two men share the state GOP’s endorsement.

“Eddie Rispone is underperforming with white voters,” Pinsonat wrote. “Unless Rispone improves dramatically with this demographic group, his odds of making a runoff are slim.” Pinsonat notes that Abraham has “made significant progress in Acadiana,” but he still trails Edwards there (38-29%) and in his home base of north Louisiana (39-26%).

Despite the poll’s good news for Edwards, Pinsonat warns the governor against popping corks too soon. “A month can be an eternity in any election,” he said, “but Abraham and Rispone have to capture a lot more voters or neither will be around for a runoff.”

Follow Clancy DuBos on Twitter: @clancygambit.

Email Gambit political editor Clancy DuBos at: