John Bel Edwards’ Approval Rating For December: 49 Percent

That’s the result from Morning Consult’s quarterly gubernatorial and senatorial approval ratings, out today. It’s a little bit better number than the 47 percent Edwards posted in Morning Consult’s last poll and the same as he posted in July. In other words, after three years in office Edwards is mired in the high 40’s.

He’s in a five-way tie for 24th most popular governor. The top nine performers on the list are all Republicans, led by Massachusetts’ Charlie Baker (72 percent approval) and Larry Hogan (68 percent). Alabama’s Kay Ivey is third at 63 percent, while Louisiana neighbors Asa Hutchinson (57 percent) in Arkansas and Greg Abbott (56 percent) in Texas are #8 and #9, respectively. Other Southern governors outpacing Edwards are outgoing Georgia governor Nathan Deal at 53 percent, South Carolina’s Henry McMaster at 53 percent, Mississippi’s outgoing Phil Bryant (52 percent) and Tennessee’s outgoing Bill Haslam (52 percent). Democrat Roy Cooper (51 percent) in North Carolina paced just ahead of Edwards as well.

Edwards did manage to pace ahead of Florida’s Rick Scott (47 percent), who survived a bruising Senate race in the fall which no doubt tarnished his approval rating. Virginia Democrat Ralph Northam also checked in at 47 percent. And Kentucky’s controversial Matt Bevin, who is also up for re-election this fall, sits at just 34 percent – a number Bevin is going to have to improve or he’ll have trouble earning another four years even in a red state.

The pollster included a quick writeup on Edwards’ numbers…

Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana is the lone red-state Democrat up for re-election this year, and his approval inched up a net 6 points since the third quarter.

He ended 2018 with about half (49 percent) of Bayou State voters — including 67 percent of Democrats, 43 percent of independents and 38 percent of Republicans — approving of his job performance. Three in 10 voters disapproved of Bel Edwards, including 47 percent of Republicans and 26 percent of independents.

Those numbers might seem OK – the 38 percent of Republicans saying he’s doing a good job would appear inordinately high. But what should be remembered, as any political consultant will tell you, is that an approval number does not equate to a re-elect number. And in poll after poll Edwards’ re-elect numbers don’t match his approval. He struggles to get out of the low 40’s.

Edwards boasted of a solid $8.4 million in cash on hand for his re-election this week. What he lacks, though, is a compelling message – raising taxes and expanding Medicaid amid a poor state economy isn’t exactly the kind of thing to rev up an electorate. And if he gets one more challenger, all bets are off.

It’s far too early to know what Edwards’ prospects truly are. If the Morning Consult numbers are accurate, he’s got maybe half the state behind him. Whether that’s enough might depend on what kind of campaigns Republican challengers Ralph Abraham and Eddie Rispone are prepared to mount this year.

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