In twelve days, early voting begins in Louisiana. Based on a Bernie Pinsonat poll released last week, John Bel Edwards is right at the cusp of winning re-election without a primary. He is sitting on 47% in the poll, while Ralph Abraham is a distant second with 26% and Eddie Rispone in third place with 14%.
In other words, even combined, the governor has a higher percentage than the two leading Republicans combined, and is a mere three percent plus one vote away from winning outright on October 12.
Even if you take the 13-14% undecided and give most of that to the Republicans, if any of those undecided swing in favor of the governor, you’re looking at him being in a very strong position going into the run-off.
Infuriatingly, all of these numbers are affected by three very important things.
The first thing affecting these numbers is Eddie Rispone’s big money buy across the state. All of that money and all of those ads has given Rispone a negligible bump in the polls. With two weeks until early voting starts, Rispone has virtually no path to the run-off. Barring Abraham getting caught in some scandal (the classic “dead girl or live boy” cliche comes to mind), Rispone’s best bet is to get off this “I’m with Trump, here are my conservative bona fides” track and give actual, real specifics as to how being a businessman will fix specific state problems.
The second thing affecting these numbers is Edwards being largely unchallenged on many of his claims – outside of conservative media outlets like The Hayride, Moon Griffon, etc. – and the voters not getting the full story. Despite how outrageous they are, Gumbo PAC’s ads don’t appear to be landing any major hits. Abraham and Rispone haven’t been pushing back hard enough on Edwards’ claims either, though. In fact, outside of LABI and Americans For Prosperity, there is no major Republican politician or group doing any sort of real pushback.
And, that’s the third and most infuriating thing of all: We have statewide Republicans and Republicans at the federal level who have been absolutely silent on the election. Most of them are uttering the utterly toothless “Wait until the runoff!” defense, taking for granted a runoff that Republicans are at risk of not even getting into. That makes zero sense when you look at the poll numbers.
But that’s where we are in the state. Louisiana’s Republican party is filled, apparently, with nervous Republicans who don’t want to make any enemies by getting involved while there is more than one candidate in the race. The Democratic Party is dead if John Bel loses – there is no successor and no other Democrat save (MAYBE) Cedric Richmond who could make a play in the state. If he wins, there is time to find and build one up.
Winning is a possibility for Edwards, and the Republicans sitting on their hands (and their MONEY) is making that possibility start to slowly shift into a probability.
There is not just millions that could be in play here. There is enough money to literally to saturate the airwaves nonstop until election day if these Republicans who are already elected and not in danger of losing re-election would send their money and their allies’ money into this race. But they’re too scared of making enemies in the process.
They have to suck it up, though. The state is in poor shape and only getting poorer, and Edwards being this close to victory should be motivating them into some sort of action.