The JMC Analytics LAGOV Poll Confirms Our Theory Of The Race

When Stephen Waguespack jumped into the Louisiana gubernatorial race about a week ago, we noted the difficulty in winning that would be faced by someone in the lane Waguespack was seeking to fill given the nature of the field and the electorate. Here’s what we said

Shawn Wilson is black, and that means he’s got 30 percent of the vote more or less locked up. He’s a Democrat, and that will get him at least another five percent from the smattering of left-wing white Democrat voters the state has. Let’s say that sweeps 35 percent of the vote off the table for Waguespack, and now he has to compete for the other 65 percent of the vote.

There is about five percent of the vote in the state which is white and registered Democrat but hasn’t voted Democrat in a long time. They function as independent voters, or maybe Republicans. Independents are about 25 percent of the electorate and most of them are what we’d call Moon Griffon independents – they aren’t registered Republicans but they’re best described as disaffected conservatives who complain about the GOP but still consistently vote Republican.

And then 35 percent of the voters are registered Republicans.

Landry polled a sample of the 60 percent of the state’s voters who are Republicans and independents a week or two ago, and he’s catching 48 percent of those people. There are 37 percent who are undecided, and the rest are sprinkled among the other candidates with Schroder doing the best among them at six percent.

Now – of that 37 percent, if the field is set you might say that Landry would still get some of them. Even if he doesn’t, he’s essentially sitting on half of the GOP and independent vote, and that puts him right around 30 percent.

If Wilson is at 35 and Landry is at 30, there’s only 35 percent of the vote for somebody else to get. And if Schroder, Hewitt, Nelson and Hunter Lundy are all still going to be in the race, how are you going to pass Landry on your way into the runoff?

Functionally, it’s a very tough row to hoe in wedging oneself past Landry or Wilson if that theory holds.

And a new survey from JMC Analytics pollster John Couvillon, which included Garret Graves rather than Waguespack as it was conducted just before Graves demurred and Wags got in, puts some numbers which are less theoretical and more concrete behind this idea…

A new poll shows Democrat Shawn Wilson and Republican Jeff Landry neck and neck early in the Louisiana governor’s race, though the survey didn’t include Republican Stephen Waguespack, who announced his entry into the campaign last week.

The poll showed Wilson, who is Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ former transportation secretary, at 29%, followed by Attorney General Jeff Landry at 28%. Edwards is term-limited and can’t run again in this cycle.

But the poll, which was conducted March 6-8, included Republican Baton Rouge Congressman Garret Graves running third at 12% before Graves opted out of the race last week.

When Graves opted out his friend Waguespack, president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry for the past 10 years, entered the race.

Republican state Treasurer John Schroder, the first to launch a statewide TV ad this week, was next at 3%, followed by Independent trial attorney Hunter Lundy at 3%, Republican state Sen. Sharon Hewitt at 2% and Republican state Rep. Richard Nelson at 1%.

Couvillon said he thinks Waguespack probably has a good half of Graves’ vote. And the undecideds in his poll number 22 percent.

Are there people who would choose Graves over Landry but Landry over Waguespack? Maybe a few. But the fact is, it really doesn’t matter. If Waguespack gathered all of the support Graves had in the poll he’s still 16 points shy of Landry if he wants to make the runoff.

Can he get 16 of the 22 percent undecided?

Let’s remember that not all of that is Republican vote. And Democrats in Louisiana are united by one general concept, which is that Bobby Jindal is literally the devil. How amenable are they to the idea of voting for Jindal’s former chief of staff? Probably not a lot.

Of course, Jeff Landry is fast becoming an even larger devil where they’re concerned than Jindal was, so maybe it’s possible a few currently-undecided white Democrats could be persuaded to support Waguespack rather than the two frontrunners.


But Landry is likely to trail in some of that 22 percent as well. And every vote out of that number he gets means Wags will need even more of it.

We’re assuming the voters currently attached to Landry and Wilson won’t be budged, and we’re going to hold fast to that assumption. Wilson is the only Democrat in the race and he’s the only black candidate. He’s getting that 29 percent plus a little more. And Landry’s base is about as rock-solid as we’ve seen in Louisiana politics. You’re not peeling those people off him.

So Waguespack’s job is to consolidate literally everybody else in the state behind his candidacy, which Hewitt, Lundy, Schroder and Nelson will be doing everything they can to prevent.

That’s a hell of a tough assignment. We’re not sure he, or anybody else, could do it.



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