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Memo: Edwards Enters Runoff as the Favorite

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Last night in Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards convincingly won the primary with 47% of the vote in a field of 6 candidates. Meanwhile, Eddie Rispone barely eked by Congressman Ralph Abraham despite a 10-1 spending advantage. The outcome aligned closely with the public polling in the race, the same polling that shows Gov. Edwards strongly ahead in the runoff against the weakened Rispone. All of these results show a clear a clear path to victory for the Governor and significant obstacles for Rispone.
2015 vs. 2019
When compared to the jungle primary in 2015, Gov. Edwards significantly increased his vote share and the Republicans’ share declined. This makes the math for Eddie Rispone significantly more difficult in a two-way race. The numbers really paint the picture.
Republicans lost 6.3 percentage points collectively from 2015 to 2019, while Gov. Edwards grew his jungle primary support by 6.7%.
In 2015, Gov Edwards went from 40% in the primary to 56% in the runoff. This time he starts in stronger shape at 47%, meaning his path to break 50% in the runoff is easier.
2019 Polling
For all the national talk about public polling – in this race the polling was consistent and correct. Nearly all public polls had Gov. Edwards in the upper 40s and his polling average across the last 6 public polls was 47%, the exact number he received in the jungle primary. Two of those last 6 polls tested a potential runoff with Rispone, and even though they under-projected his primary support, both had the Governor ahead and in strong position against Rispone in a runoff.

  • Mason Dixon, October 1-4: Projected Edwards getting 45% in the jungle primary but beating Rispone 51-42 in a runoff.
  • JMC Analytics, October 5-8: Projected Edwards getting 45% in the jungle primary but starting the runoff against Rispone in strong shape at 48-39.

In addition, Gov. Edwards has been able to maintain mid-50s favorable and approval ratings despite a $7 million onslaught of negative ads against him. No incumbent governor has ever been this popular, or viewed this highly, and lost a runoff. With his record of bi-partisan success, he has put together a a broad coalition of supporters from all parties and parts of the state – and that coalition will propel him to victory in this upcoming runoff.
Eddie Rispone, on the other hand, limps out of this jungle primary bruised from a contentious battle for second place and only able to garner 27% of the vote despite spending more than any other candidate and in particular, outspending Ralph Abraham 10 to 1.  He’s been publicly ridiculed and criticized by Republicans in Louisiana for the campaign he ran, and now he’ll have to spend time and energy putting the GOP back together again.
Who Do Voters Trust?
Gov. Edwards made good on his campaign promises by turning a $2 billion deficit into a $500 million surplus, expanding health care to more than 450,000 working Louisianans, and signing the first teacher pay raise in more than a decade into law.
Eddie Rispone has been the consummate political insider, donating to Republican campaigns for years in order to benefit himself and his friends, even if it hurt Louisiana. Nowhere is this more evident than his decision to hire foreign workers at a time when Louisiana’s unemployment rate was above 6%.
He openly states he wants to bring back Bobby Jindal’s failed policies, whether it’s defunding education, kicking people off their health insurance, or re-enacting the fiscal mismanagement that plagued Louisiana’s economy.
Voters are better off than they were four years ago and know they have Gov. Edwards to thank for that. All signs point to another four year term for the governor, and the DGA is committed to ensuring he is re-elected on November 16.