There has been a perception of late among the state’s political watchers over the last month or so that John Bel Edwards’ hopes for re-election as Louisiana’s governor are sliding, and that the Democrat is fighting a losing battle as his two Republican contenders continue to build their campaigns. So far, that perception seems to be that Ralph Abraham is doing a more effective job of galvanizing support among the state’s Republicans than Eddie Rispone is – though that’s subject to review based on Rispone’s giant war chest being turned loose onto the airwaves.
That perception will only be bolstered based on the results of a new poll by Remington Research that Abraham’s campaign released Monday afternoon…
The month of June begins with Governor John Bel Edwards in a 45-45 tie head to head against Congressman Ralph Abraham.
The survey, conducted by the nationally recognized polling firm, Remington Research, shows Congressman Abraham extending his lead on his Republican opponent to 26 points, strengthening the likelihood Congressman Abraham will be taking on Governor Edwards in the November General Election.
When asked if the Governor has done a good enough job to deserve reelection, John Bel Edwards is strongly repudiated, with only 42% of likely voters believing he should be sent back for a second term.
“These are devastating numbers for an incumbent Governor – or really an incumbent anything – to be facing headed into re-election,” stated Abraham General Consultant Lionel Rainey III.
Congressman Ralph Abraham adds, “Voters are responding to our message of lower taxes and more jobs. They are sick of watching Louisiana lose and are ready to embrace a conservative leader who can turn things around.”
The poll can be found here. One of the key things we notice about it is the sample – all of these Remington polls the Abraham campaign has been releasing over the course of the race have used a 50D, 35R, 15I voter mix, and this poll continues with that number. It’s very probably an oversampling of Democrats, as we’ve noted previously – we think 47 percent is probably the better number to measure Democrat voter turnout in the governor’s race. The poll’s 27 percent share of the sample given to black voters is probably correct.
And in the three-way race the poll has Edwards at 42, Abraham at 34 and Rispone at 8. Those numbers would tell you Abraham is definitely consolidating Republican support and likely to make the runoff.
The previous Remington poll released by the Abraham camp had a statistical tie between the two – Edwards was ahead of Abraham 47-45 – and that’s now an actual tie at 45-45. You can’t quite call that evidence Abraham is surging past Edwards, but it’s not necessary for Abraham to be doing that now anyway – what’s important is that he’s toe-to-toe with an incumbent governor despite there still being 49 percent of the voters who say they have no opinion of him. That he’s got effective name ID with only half the voters and he’s still tied with Edwards tells you the governor has a pretty hard ceiling for re-election which sits below 50 percent, and it also tells you if Abraham simply attracts more voters than he alienates going forward he’s going to crush Edwards against that ceiling.
There’s something else in here which we find really intriguing, which was the breakdown among the Democrats surveyed…
This is a number for Edwards which has fallen off since the March poll, as he was sitting on a 59 percent “Definitely Edwards” number then. To lose 10 points of support from his own party is a scary number, and it’s quite possibly attributable to his decision to sign the anti-abortion fetal heartbeat bill in this legislative session. The previous concern for Edwards internal to his base was a suspect relationship with the black community, due in some part to his reliance on sales tax increases to fund his spending binge; now, it’s the fact Edwards has taken a pro-life stance which is bound to be highly unpopular with the core of the state’s Democrats.
And there goes 10 percent of the state’s Democrat vote which now doesn’t really want to vote for Edwards.
Which means there is a definitive possibility for somebody to get into the race as a pro-choice, single-issue candidate to Edwards’ left on abortion, and to raise a decent pile of money online from the Daily Kos/Democrat Underground crowd to run as a “real” Democrat. Edwards is getting some really ugly media coverage nationally for having signed that bill, ironically enough as it was authored by a Democrat in Katrina Jackson, and he isn’t exactly making up for it by getting bouquets from conservative media (on practically every other issue he’s shown he’s no friend of conservatives, so why would he?).
And if that pro-choice candidate did get in, it would be the end of Edwards’ hopes to capture 50 percent of the vote in the October primary – which is his stated strategy. Even pumping up Democrat turnout above 50 percent wouldn’t do it for him, because he’d bleed too many votes to the fringe pro-abortion candidate to win the race.
And if he’s in an even-money matchup with Abraham without even having more than half of his own party’s enthusiastic support, he’s cooked.
The Abraham camp is getting more and more confident in their candidate and in the fundamentals of the race. It remains to be seen what Rispone’s camp will look like if and when that war chest gets turned loose, but they’re similarly confident of the prospective results should they make the runoff with Edwards (though the Remington poll shows Edwards ahead of Rispone 49-38, which compares to a 48-42 result in the March poll).
As for Edwards, he’s got a problem. He’s sliding with his own party on abortion, and what it’s going to take for him to shore up support from his base might very well drive away the swing voters he was able to steal from David Vitter in 2015.