Democratic governor in the deep South on the verge of reelection

Democratic governor in the deep South on the verge of reelection
Edwards campaign via CNN

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, is facing off against opponents from both political parties in Saturday’s jungle gubernatorial primary, in which all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, run against each other. If Edwards can emerge with greater than 50% of the vote, he’ll win reelection outright. If he doesn’t, a runoff will be held in November between the two top vote getters.

Polling and other factors suggest that, despite Louisiana’s Republican lean, Edwards has a decent shot of being reelected.

Edwards won office back in 2015 on somewhat of a fluke. Polling showed him only clearly beating one Republican in a runoff, scandal-ridden David Vitter, and Vitter was the Republican who managed to secure a runoff spot alongside Edwards. Edwards was helped by then-Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal driving up the state budget deficit and provided the political environment for Edwards to win.

Still, whether he won on a fluke or not four years ago, Edwards’ 2019 polling has been fairly good. In an average of polls taken since the beginning of the month, Edwards earns 47% of the vote. Republican businessman Eddie Rispone gets 22%. Republican Rep. Ralph Abraham gets 20%. The other minor candidates are averaging 3%. That leaves Edwards just short of a majority, though an additional 8% say they are undecided.

Indeed, the big question is what happens with those undecided voters. Some of them may be undecided because they aren’t sure which of the two major Republicans to vote for. President Donald Trump held a rally in Louisiana Friday night to merely telling voters not to cast a vote for Edwards. If a disproportionate number of undecideds go to one of the Republican candidates, then Edwards will fall short of 50%.

If, however, the undecideds go proportionally toward the candidates, Edwards will clear 50% and avoid a runoff.

Even if a runoff were to occur, Edwards would start off, at worst, a 50-50 proposition to win. He’s up at least 9 points and getting to at least 50% in hypothetical one-on-ones against Abraham and Rispone in an average of polls taken this month.

Of course, the lack of multiple high profile Republicans in a runoff means that any Republican would be able to focus their attacks on Edwards. Either Abraham or Rispone wouldn’t have to be fending off the other, as they are in the primary. You can easily imagine Trump coming in for another pre-election rally ahead of the runoff, which could be more effective, as he would be endorsing one candidate instead of anti-endorsing one.

Louisiana is still a red state after all. Trump won it by 20 points