The state’s conservative Republican establishment went bananas over a week ago when The Advocate reported results of an independent poll that showed President Trump has lost support in Louisiana.
“A clear majority of Louisiana voters don’t want Donald Trump to win a second term as president,” the newspaper said.
The poll by Verne Kennedy also gave Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards a comfortable lead over his two Republican opponents. As you would expect, that news wasn’t well received either.
Polling is an imprecise science, and how voters react to the surveys often depends on their political views. If they like the results, they give polls credibility. If not, they are quick to find fault.
The gubernatorial campaign won’t get into high gear until July 4, and voters have made it abundantly clear they aren’t chomping at the bit to get involved just yet. Much is going to change between now and Oct. 12, so why get so worked up about one poll?
Trump carried Louisiana with 58 percent of the vote in 2016, and it’s highly unlikely he has lost much support. However, Trump may not be as popular in Louisiana today as he was back then.
Conservative Dan Fagan, in an Advocate column, said Morning Consult conducted a poll during the same month as Kennedy and found Trump had a 56 percent approval rating. The president’s numbers are probably somewhere between 47 percent in the Kennedy poll and that 56 percent approval rating.
The conspiracy theories cooked up by supporters of Trump and U.S. Rep Ralph Abraham, R-Alto, one of Edwards’ opponents, are rather comical. The other Republican candidate is businessman Eddie Rispone of Baton Rouge.
Brian Trascher, who served as a Trump state co-chairman, told Fagan it’s obvious the Kennedy poll is all about trying to keep the president out of the Louisiana governor’s race.
Trascher added, “The president’s definitely going to come down and endorse and hold a rally for the Republican candidate. The president wants this governorship back.”
Lionel Rainey, a campaign consultant for Abraham, called the Kennedy poll laughable. “Everybody knows Donald Trump is loved in this state,” Rainey said. “They need to do everything they can to keep Trump from campaigning for Abraham. They know that if and when Donald Trump comes to Louisiana and stumps for Abraham, they know it’s over.”
Fagan admitted Republicans are engaging in “pure speculation” when they claim the Kennedy poll is designed to keep Trump from campaigning in Louisiana. He added there is no proof Edwards has any ties to the poll.
USA Today Network talked to political experts to get their take on the governor’s race, and their assessment has more validity than polling. They are veteran political consultant Roy Fletcher, pollster John Couvillon, Kennedy, called the dean of Louisiana polling, and Josh Stockley at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
The network said the top three candidates as of June 18 had not retained any of the four experts.
Fletcher said, “I think the governor is in pretty solid shape and could win in the primary, but probably not. Clearly, his problem is that he’s a Democrat in a Republican state, but he’s Christian, pro-life and pro-gun with a lot of money and those are pretty darn good positions in the Deep South.”
Couvillon said he believes the governor “is in good shape, but not great shape. He’s sitting in the 40 to 42 percent range on primary day. Every poll I’ve done show him running behind his 2016 runoff showing.”
Kennedy said, “Other polls aren’t digging deep enough to measure the (African-American) voters.
Stockley said Edwards begins the race out front. “I think it’s an advantageous field for Gov. Edwards because he’s competing against two relatively unknown Republicans…”
Daniel DeLaureal, a retiree from Lacombe, in a letter to The Advocate offered a layman’s analysis of the race.
DeLaureal said, “No matter how many R’s you put after a candidate’s name, two words will make every voter stop and reconsider voting for a candidate simply because of his party affiliation: Bobby Jindal.
“Eight years of fiscal and legislative chaos, driven by right-wing orthodoxy, left the electorate exhausted and hungering for anything approaching normalcy,” he said.
DeLaureal added, “… The Republican gubernatorial candidates have so far failed to do what should have been their first job. They have not convinced me, or any other voter I have talked to, that they are not Bobby Jindal. In fact, from what little I have been able to learn about them, they sound suspiciously like him.”
The two GOP candidates keep talking about cutting the budget and cutting taxes. That is exactly why Edwards inherited a $2 billion deficit from Jindal. With help from moderate Republicans, Edwards has the state in much better shape today that it was in 2016.