Louisiana Democrats in Disarray As Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Path To Reelection Narrows

An analysis of voter registration numbers shows the Democratic Party’s standing continuing to erode in the Bayou State,

Already facing an uphill climb to reelection thanks to his lackluster economic record, broken campaign promises, and a series of shifts to the left, Louisiana Democrat Governor John Bel Edwards is now dealing with growing problems with his party’s base. An analysis of voter registration numbers shows the Democratic Party’s standing continuing to erode in the Bayou State, while a new poll indicates that Democrats are becoming increasingly disenchanted with Edwards, with a sizable portion now hoping for a primary challenge. As the standard bearer for a party that is increasingly out of touch with Louisiana voters who can no longer rely on solid support from the Democratic Party faithful, Edwards’ path to reelection this fall continues to narrow.

Here are some highlights of recent coverage:

The Advocatereported that Edwards “faces a tougher road to winning another four years” because of his party’s eroding standing among voters in Louisiana, with Democrats losing a substantial number of registered voters while Republicans have seen large gains:

But the governor faces a tougher road to winning another four years because the Democratic Party’s standing in Louisiana has continued to erode during his tenure. Compared to when Edwards took office in January 2016, Louisiana has substantially more registered Republicans and fewer Democrats, and Democrats hold fewer seats in the state House as a result of special elections.

Edwards is the only Democrat who holds statewide office in Louisiana. The lieutenant governor, the secretary of state, the treasurer, the insurance commissioner and the agriculture commissioner are all Republicans. Republicans also hold solid majorities in the state House and Senate.

Since January 2016, Democrats have lost 6% of their registered voters, from 1,331,636 to 1,261,493, a drop of 70,143.

Over that same period, Republicans have gained 10% more registered voters, from 821,886 to 913,596, an increase of 91,710.

Liberal columnist Stephanie Grace wrote that Edwards now “has to worry about attracting Democrats” as his base issues continue to grow worse:


And while Edwards’ politics haven’t changed, the political landscape in Louisiana too has become a lot more treacherous. His signature on the law authored by Democratic state Sen. John Milkovich of Shreveport probably shores up his support on the right. That’s where his focus has always been, on the theory that Democrats would feel the way Moreno does, that he’s the best they’re going to get in this state.

But now he’s got to worry about the Democrats too — not whether they’ll switch to one of the Republicans challenging him but whether they’ll be so angry that they won’t vote. Another possibility, floated mostly by Republicans, is that a pro-choice Democrat could run and divide his vote…

Casting himself as anti-abortion and pro-gun but also progressive on many other issues turned out to be a sweet spot for Edwards the last time around.

It’s not so sweet any more.

University of Louisiana-Lafayette political science professor Pearson Cross toldWWL Radio that Edwards’ campaign “should be concerned” about his poor poll numbers:

…[Edwards’] signing of the bill that would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected may be too much for some Democrats to bear. A poll of 500 registered Louisiana Democrats finds 42 percent would like to see another Democrat run for governor. And the younger the voter, the more they support it: Democrats 35 and under favored having another Democrat challenge Edwards by 64 percent.

University of Louisiana-Lafayette political science professor Pearson Cross says while another Democrat in the race could pose a serious threat to Edwards’ chances at reelection, it would be even more likely to help a Republican candidate win…

…Cross says the Edwards campaign should be concerned about this.

“I would say they have got to have a bridge to these people who are concerned about the abortion issue,” said Cross.

Pollster John Couvillon highlighted how Edwards is already at a disadvantage as a Democrat running “in an increasingly Republican state” after heavily raising taxes:

Couvillon pointed to the obvious, that Edwards is running “in an increasingly Republican state, and that works to his disadvantage.”

The pollster talked before the end of the legislative session, one in which budget battles of the previous years were not renewed. Edwards benefited from that circumstance, even if, Couvillon suggested, ordinary voters didn’t like the conflicts that raged during the slew of special sessions in 2016 and after.

The governor is supposed to be in charge, and the expectation that he will be fixing things was undermined by the conflicts spawned largely by the House GOP leadership against Edwards’ actions.

And Couvillon noted that those actions included significant tax increases, something the governor’s opponents are sure to highlight.

The Hayridereports that rumors are circulating that Edwards may indeed garner a primary challenge, but points out that his base problems are likely to persist no matter what:

We heard some rumors last week that there will be just such a candidate entering the race, though so far no names have surfaced…

…[E]ven without a pro-choice Democrat getting into the race the We Ask America poll shows that the abortion issue is now a major weakness for Edwards within his party, and all Abraham and Rispone need to do is bring it up over and over again, and force Edwards to continue touting his pro-life record, thus irritating the 60 percent of his base vote who didn’t like him signing that bill. Those voters are going to be progressively tougher to turn out in both October and November – particularly if they start to believe Edwards can’t win anyway.

This is what’s known as a wedge issue. And it’s a giant one. It portends disaster for the governor.