Louisiana holds its all-party primary on Saturday, and two new polls find Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards a few points short of the majority he needs to avoid a November runoff. Both surveys also give wealthy businessman Eddie Rispone a small lead over Rep. Ralph Abraham, a fellow Republican, for the second place spot.
The GOP firm JMC Analytics, polling on behalf of the Louisiana Association of Health Plans, finds Edwards ahead with 47% of the vote, while Rispone leads Abraham 22-19. JMC’s last poll for LAHP had Edwards at 48% two weeks ago, while Rispone and Abraham were also in almost the exact same place with 22% and 20%, respectively.
Mason-Dixon is also out with a survey for Gray Television that has Edwards at 45%, while Rispone has a 22-17 edge over Abraham. The firm also tests Edwards against each Republican in hypothetical Nov. 16 runoff scenarios and gives the incumbent a 51-42 edge against Rispone and a larger 53-38 lead over Abraham. We haven’t seen any other runoff polls since mid-September when a Remington Research survey for Abraham showed him trailing Edwards 48-44 as Rispone lost to the Democrat by a similar 49-44 spread.
While Mason-Dixon’s survey finds Edwards in good shape for a second round, there are plenty of reasons for Democrats to be wary about a runoff. Right how, both Abraham and Rispone are running attack ads against one another, but a runoff would give the GOP the chance to present a united front against the governor in this conservative state.
Edwards would also be on the receiving end of another month of attacks from national Republicans including Donald Trump, who will hold a rally on election eve in Lake Charles. The White House has not picked sides between Rispone and Abraham, and Trump and his allies are focused encouraging Republican voters to show up for one of them to keep Edwards from winning a majority.
Republicans also went up with two TV spots last week focused on a sexual harassment scandal involving a former member of the Edwards administration named Johnny Anderson. Both of these new polls were completed just as these commercials were starting to air, so it’s too early to determine how much this ad campaign is impacting the governor’s numbers. However, Edwards team is taking them seriously: While the campaign said on Friday it was airing its “closing ad” touting his accomplishments in office, they went up with a new commercial two days later focused on women’s rights.
This spot features several women praising Edwards for “expanding access to prenatal care, strongly supporting equal pay, and fighting human trafficking,” as well as appointing more women to his cabinet than any previous Louisiana governor. The cast then address the Anderson scandal by saying, “When an employee committed sexual harassment, Gov. Edwards demanded his resignation within hours, then revised the state’s policies to provide a safer working environment for women.”
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