Boy, talk about two alternative realities. On Monday John Bel Edwards’ camp put out an Anzalone Lizst Grove Research poll (it was an internal campaign poll, not an independent one) taken prior to Saturday’s primary election in the Louisiana governor’s race which had him ahead by a whopping 52-36 margin.
No crosstabs were released from the poll, at least none that we saw, but Edwards’ survey said that Eddie Rispone was only getting 58 percent of Ralph Abraham’s voters, with 27 percent of those voters saying they were undecided and 15 percent actually saying they were for Edwards.
The fact that Abraham had endorsed Rispone on election night made Edwards’ poll obsolete before he even released it. But the campaign needed something to show momentum in the face of some unexpectedly bad results Saturday night. Edwards had put a great deal into the prospect of winning the election outright in the primary and those ALG internal polls had him getting over 50 percent in the primary.
So the Anzalone poll didn’t have a lot of credibility. The question is whether the Rispone-friendly We Ask America poll which leaked out to the Washington Times’ James Varney Thursday is closer to reality…
Louisiana Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is tied with his Republican challenger in the first poll made public since last week’s primary.
Mr. Edwards and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone are tied at 47% support, according to the poll, which will be made public Friday by We Ask America. The result shows that Mr. Rispone has quickly consolidated the Republican vote in the Pelican State, a development that should make him a more formidable opponent as Mr. Edwards seeks re-election Nov. 16.
In 2015, when Mr. Edwards‘ victory surprised political experts and made him the only Democratic governor in the Deep South, he faced a divided Republican opposition.
“Having failed to clinch re-election in the initial primary election this past weekend, [Mr. Edwards] incumbent finds himself now tied (47%-47%) with [Mr.] Rispone,” said We Ask America pollster Andrew Weissert. “While still well-regarded with voters, Edwards sits identical to the percentage he received in the primary.¨
We Ask America didn’t find Rispone particularly struggling to pull in Abraham’s voters…
Mr. Rispone appears to have benefited not only from the endorsement of Republican Rep. Ralph Abraham, who finished third in Saturday’s jungle primary voting, but also from the strong support of President Trump, who carried Louisiana easily in 2016 and remains popular.
“Rispone has quickly moved to consolidate the Republican base and with the national spotlight shining bright on Louisiana, President Trump’s stellar job approval with Louisianans will only serve to help Rispone in the sprint to the runoff next month,” Mr. Weissert said.
Varney said the Edwards camp poo-poohed the We Ask America poll and said they were comfortable with their own numbers. That isn’t surprising, but then again the last We Ask America poll before the election found Edwards at 47 percent, and Rispone in 2nd place ahead of Abraham by a 23-17 margin. Those numbers weren’t spot on with respect to Rispone and Abraham, who finished the primary at 27 and 24 percent, respectively, but they did peg Edwards pretty close to his share of the vote and predicted the order of finish.
And Anzalone’s numbers had Edwards above 50, which most certainly didn’t happen.
Is Edwards closer to 52 percent, or 47? You’d probably have to say it’s the latter, as outside of Anzalone and Verne Kennedy no independent polling has ever showed Edwards above 50 and he’s only demonstrated an ability to get to 46.6 percent so far in this cycle based on Saturday’s results. And if 47 percent isn’t Edwards’ ceiling, then why didn’t he poll higher in Saturday’s election?
But is Rispone at 47? Well, Rispone and Abraham combined for 51 percent of the primary vote on Saturday, so if he’s at 47 that’s an indication he’s getting 83.3 percent (20 out of 24) of Abraham’s primary voters. Given Abraham’s endorsement of Rispone, it would seem reasonable to believe he could hit that number.
So maybe the We Ask America poll could be reasonably close to reality.
If that’s so, two things are true. First, this will likely be a very narrowly decided runoff dependent almost completely on turnout, and you can expect the Trump team to all but camp out in Louisiana to help carry Rispone over the finish line. As the ground game was not the campaign’s strong suit, it’s a decent assumption that shoring it up and building as strong a GOTV outfit as possible in concert with the state GOP and other players is going to be the difference in whether Rispone can win.
And second, if this really is a 47-47 race you can expect that it will be the dirtiest, nastiest gubernatorial contest you have ever seen. Get ready for absolute war.