NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -Incumbent Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards and his Republican challenger Eddie Rispone are the last two men standing in the Louisiana governor’s race that will be decided on Saturday (Nov. 16), and a new FOX 8 poll shows the race is very close.
Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy conducted the poll of 625 registered voters from November 5 through November 7. All the respondents indicated that they would likely vote in the runoff.
When asked who they would vote for in the governor’s race: 48 percent statewide said Edwards and 46 percent said they would vote for Rispone. Six percent of voters said they were still undecided.
FOX 8 political analyst Mike Sherman suggested that there could be uncertainty over the winner until most of the votes are counted on Saturday.
"This poll suggests this is going to be a nail-biter of an election,” said Sherman.
In terms of statewide support for the candidates by gender, 44 percent of men said they support Edwards compared to 51 percent of women. And it is almost the opposite scenario for Rispone, with 51 percent of men supporting him and 42 percent of women.
Sherman said women are a key demographic in political races.
“We’re seeing a real fight in all of America for suburban women and this seems to be the group in polls that is voting for Gov. John Bel Edwards [and] not Eddie Rispone,” said Sherman. “Rispone’s doing even better with males, particularly white males."
And the poll also breaks down the support for the two gubernatorial candidates by race.
Among white voters, 28 percent said they would vote for Edwards compared to 92 percent of blacks who said they will cast votes for Edwards in the race. Sixty-six percent of white voters said they will back Rispone in the contest, but only 2 percent of African Americans said they would vote for Rispone. Six percent of whites and blacks were undecided.
Sherman said it appears Edwards needs to garner more white support to be successful in his reelection bid.
"Governor John Bel Edwards getting near unanimous support from African American voters…He is underperforming what a Democrat typically needs to do to win statewide as a Democrat…He’s still in the high 20s, he needs to be in the low 30s among white voters,” said Sherman.
When respondents to the poll were asked if they approve or disapprove of Edwards’ job performance as governor, 54 percent said they approve of the job the incumbent is doing and 38 percent said they disapprove.
Sherman said despite Edwards having an approval rating of over 50 percent other dynamics are at play.
"The same trend is holding true this month as with last month. About 54 percent of voters approve of the job the governor's doing but there's still a group of those voters unwilling to commit to voting for him despite approving of his job performance,” he said.
With the other major Republican candidate, Ralph Abraham, now out of the picture, there has been speculation over whether support for the two runoff candidates would shift.
According to the poll, Edwards retains 94 percent of his primary voters. Meanwhile, Rispone holds on to 92 percent of the voters who supported him during the October 12th primary.
And in terms of Abraham’s supporters during the primary, just 10 percent say they will now support the Democrat, Edwards. While the majority, 85 percent, say they will support Rispone.
Of the Louisiana voters who said they supported Donald Trump in the 2016 election, 15 percent said they will vote for Edwards, compared to 81 percent who said they will support Rispone.
"No surprises that folks are sticking with their primary candidate in Rispone and Edwards. What we’re really focused on is those Abraham voters, where are they going? We’re seeing them in droves go to the Republican candidate Rispone,” said Sherman.