Nexstar Poll: Rispone overtakes Abraham in LA Governor’s race

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Eddie Rispone, left, responds to a question as Gov. John Bel Edwards, center, and Republican Rep. Ralph Abraham, right, watch as they participate in the first televised gubernatorial debate Thursday Sept. 19, 2019, in Baton Rouge, La. (Bill Feig/The Advocate via AP, Pool)

BATON ROUGE, La. (NEXSTAR) – A new poll conducted just days before Saturday’s election shows incumbent Democrat John Bel Edwards is not likely to pull off an outright win in the Governor’s race, and which Republican will make the runoff to challenge him in November is up in the air thanks to a statistical tie.

According to an exclusive Nexstar poll conducted by JMC Analytics and Polling in Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge businessman and Republican challenger Eddie Rispone has overtaken Republican Congressman Ralph Abraham for a possible slot in the general election against Edwards.

Rispone sits one point higher than Abraham which represents a substantial gain over a previous poll conducted in mid-September.

At that point, Rispone had 16% support to Abraham’s 24%. During this week’s polling, Rispone’s support jumped to 21% while Abraham dropped to 20%. Governor Edwards appears in an easy position to advance to the general election at 43%.

12% of those polled were undecided. That’s a drop from 16% in our previous poll.

Adding up the responses from those who are undecided, but “leaning,” the poll shows Edwards with a total of 47% of the vote. Analysis from these polls results indicates that black Democrat Omar Dantzler’s 3% is keeping Edwards just short of 50%.

Primary election day is Saturday, October 12. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, the top two vote earners will face off in the November 16 general election.

The poll also shows Edwards winning by at least 9% in potential head-to-head matchups against Republican opponents in November. In both races, the percentage of undecided voters was large enough to make up the difference.

Source: JMC Analytics and Polling

It’s worth noting supplemental questions showed Governor Edwards with a 50% approval rating along with 50% of those polled saying the state is better off than it was four years ago.

Source: JMC Analytics and Polling

According to analysis from JMC Analytics and Polling:

Governor Edwards’ messaging has consistently noted improvements that have occurred during his time in office. Voters generally agree: they by a 50-29% margin believe the state is better off than it was four years ago, and by a similar 50-32% margin approve of Governor Edwards’ job performance. There is considerable polarization on these questions, and these polarization patterns illustrate the bases of support of the major candidates for Governor. Blacks approve of Governor Edwards’ job performance 77-6%, and by a similar 72-9% margin believe the state is better off than it was four years ago. White Democrats are similarly inclined, with less one sided support/optimism: 57-24% believe the state is better off, while 54-29% approve of Governor Edwards. White Independents are of a similar mindset, but not as overwhelmingly as blacks and white Democrats are: 42-30% believe the state is better off, while 41-37% approve of Governor Edwards’ job performance. Republicans, however, believe the state is worse off by a 48-30% margin, and by a wider 53-26% margin disapprove of Governor Edwards’ job performance.

These contradictory opinions demonstrate why Governor Edwards is well ahead of his two major Republican challengers, while simultaneously falling short of 50%. While Governor Edwards maintains strong support among black voters (75% on the ballot test/77% if “leaners” are included), fellow Democrat Omar Dantzler is a distraction, receiving 5% of the black vote regardless of whether “leaners” are included. He similarly maintains majority support both among white Democrats (52%/54% if “leaners” are included) and a respectable percentage of white Independents (29%/34% with “leaners” included). He is also getting a noticeable portion of the Republican vote (17%/18% with “leaners” included).

Thus far, Eddie Rispone has clung to a tiny lead over Congressman Ralph Abraham, due to a small plurality (3735%, regardless of whether leaners are included) among Republican voters. However, support for either Republican candidate drops off outside that demographic: with “leaners” included, Abraham leads 24-23% among white Independents, while Rispone has a 21-15% lead among white Democrats.

Methodology:

The survey was conducted October 5, 7, and 8. The margin of error, with a 95% confidence interval, was 4.0%. The demographic breakdown of the respondents was 68-29% white/black (3% “other”), while the party registration of respondents was 45-35% Democratic/Republican (20% Independents). The geographic breakdown of the respondents was as follows: 5% from Alexandria, 20% from Baton Rouge, 14% from Lafayette, 6% from Lake Charles, 9% from Monroe, 35% from New Orleans, and 12% from Shreveport.

You can click here to download the polling crosstabs.

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