GOP’s Rispone Now Tied with Dem John Bel Edwards in Poll of Louisiana Governor Race

In this Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019. file photo, gubernatorial candidate Eddie Rispone arrives at the Louisiana Secretary of State's office to sign up to run in the upcoming election, in Baton Rouge, La. Advocates for a Louisiana constitutional convention are trying to make inroads for the movement, seeing opportunity with …
AP Photo/Michael DeMocker, File

A poll released on Friday shows GOP challenger Eddie Risponse has moved into a tie with Democrat incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards four weeks before the November 16 Louisiana gubernatorial runoff election between the two.

Both Rispone and Edwards received support from 47 percent of Louisiana voters polled by We Ask America. The poll of 600 Louisiana registered voters was conducted between October 14 and 16 and has a margin of error of plus or minus four points.

This was the first publicly released poll of the Louisiana gubernatorial runoff election set up by the results of the October 12 “jungle primary” in which Edwards failed to secure the 50 percent majority required to win re-election to a second four-year term and avoid a runoff election. Risponse, a wealthy self-made millionaire from Baton Rouge, qualified for the runoff election by winning 27 percent of the vote. Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA) finished in third place with 24 percent of the vote and failed to make the runoff.

“While still well-regarded with voters, Edwards sits identical to the percentage he received in the primary. Rispone, however, 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,” the summary of the poll results noted.

Among the poll’s key findings:

  • Governor Edwards remains stuck at forty-seven percent.  Getting 47% of the vote, Edwards is exactly where he ended in the primary and has failed to gain traction with Congressman Abraham’s former supporters, pulling away just 9%. Overall, Edwards is certainly well-liked with 55% of voters having a favorable opinion of him versus 39% who have an unfavorable one (net +16% Fav/Unfav). However, as in the primary, Edwards has failed to fully capitalize on that positive image. Edwards receives support from 86% of self-identifying Democrats and is winning Independents by a 17% margin (51%-34%). While 52% (44% Yes & 8% Probably) of voters say that Governor Edwards either does, or probably does, deserve re-election, that also isn’t translating completely to the ballot. In the head-to-head with Rispone, just 37% of voters saying he probably deserves re-election actually choose Edwards, with Rispone picking up 45% of them. Simply put, voters may like Edwards, but aren’t sold on voting for him.
  • Eddie Rispone has shot out of the gate post-primary. Tied with Edwards at 47%, any doubts that the primary battle between Rispone and Abraham would cause a major fracture in the Republican base can be put to rest, as Rispone has quickly moved to secure 80% of self-identifying Republicans and, perhaps more importantly, 85% of former Abraham supporters. Rispone, like Edwards, also enjoys a positive image in voter’s minds with a 49% having a favorable opinion of him versus 38% having an unfavorable one (net +11% Fav/Unfav).
  • President Trump is extremely popular with Louisiana voters and could be the key to the runoff’s outcome.  Overall, 59% of Louisiana voters approve of the job he is doing as president, versus 37% who disapprove. A massive 92% of self-identifying Republicans approve of his job performance. Additionally, the president is very well liked personally, with an image of net +23% (59% Fav/36% Unfav). The president should also have an impact on the outcome of the runoff as 50% of Undecided voters have a favorable opinion of him versus just 31% who have an unfavorable.

Circumstances in 2019 are different for Edwards than they were in 2015, when he defeated Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) in that year’s runoff gubernatorial election to win his first four-year term.

“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,” the Washington Times reported.

This time around, Republicans have consolidated around Rispone’s candidacy.

Abraham, who missed the runoff by three points, endorsed Rispone on election night, a gracious show of party unity after the two men had a contentious few weeks on the campaign trail leading up to the October 12 “jungle primary” election.

President Trump, who held a “jungle primary” election eve rally in Louisiana in which he announced his support for both Republican candidates and blasted Democrat Edwards, immediately tweeted his endorsement of Rispone as soon as it was clear the Baton Rouge businessman had qualified for the runoff election.

“Analysts have predicted a close runoff even before Rispone and Edwards won their places on the ballot, and this poll appears to be in line with those expectations,” WWLTV reported on Friday after the release of the We Ask America poll.

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