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Wednesday, 14 August 2019 07:02

How long are Trump's coat tails for Rispone in Louisiana governor's race?

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If you didn't know better, you might think that President Donald Trump was running for governor as a Republican against John Bel Edwards, the incumbent and a Democrat.

Newbie political candidate, Eddie Rispone, a Baton Rouge businessman, who has his own rags to riches story to tell, essentially has made Trump his running mate with his TV advertising. Rispone backs Trump, donated to him and mentions the president throughout the ads.  Rispone, a virtual unknown in the state had to introduce himself to the voters for the first time. He chose to align himself with the national figure that the vast majority of Republican voters adore.

 Obviously, his goal would be that when you think of Rispone, the vision of Trump enters your brain. Theoretically, this strategy can work in the general election when the goal is to win as much of the Republican and conservative Democrats and independents support, as possible.  The ultimate question would be the impact when the candidate is a popular moderate Democrat incumbent, John Bel Edwards. 

Rispone is not the first Louisiana political candidate who has brought the president into the campaign.  Almost every Republican candidate for office on a statewide level and Congressional level seemed to remind the voters that if you wanted  President Barack Obama in your home, church, office, playground, then the Democratic opponent would be your choice. That strategy worked almost all of the time but it failed during the Louisiana gubernatorial race in which Edwards upset Republican US Senator David Vitter.  That election deserves an asterisk however because the opponent was Vitter, who seemed to be one of the most popular politicians in the state while also wearing the scarlet letter of perhaps the most-unpopular, too.

Of course, importing a national figure into the campaign such as Obama in a red state is normally a plus for the importer. But, former Commissioner of Administration and Republican Angele Davis tried it when she ran for State Treasurer. The imported was President Trump. She was not very successful regardless how often she would show his picture or say his name.

In the October 2017 election, Davis did manage to get roughly 21.64 percent of the vote but she failed to make the run-offs.  

At that time, based upon a Morning Consult poll that tracks all states,  as of October 1 2017, Trump enjoyed a 55% approval rating with a 39% disapproval in Louisiana. For reference sake, as of January 1, 2017, prior to Trump taking office, his approval was 59 to 28 approval vs. disapproval. Thus, he had dropped by 15 percent during that interval  here in Louisiana between January 1 and November 1 2007.

Currently, based upon the same poll that came out earlier this week, Trump’s approval is 56% approval and 39% disapproval. Thus, there has been a !% gain in net approval compared to the October 2017 survey, the month of the State Treasurer’s election.

Rispone’s initial goal is to beat his Republican opponent Ralph Abraham and hope that Edwards has received less than 50% to trigger a runoff.  We have a few months before the governor’s race and anything can happen in terms of Trump’s approval rate and within the governor’s race itself.

Abraham is no slouch when it comes to backing Trump. He has a record. In fact a very strong pro-Trump record. According to fivethirtyeight, Abraham has voted for Trump-supported legislation, a whopping 93.2% of the time. By comparison, Republican Congressman Steve Scalisse has a 99.2 % rating and Republican Congressman Mike Johnson, ties Abraham at 93.2%.

Just how long will Rispone co-star with Trump, at least in terms of his TV commercials, we will have to wait and see.  Davis achieved a third place result out of a total of six candidates. Political importation of a national figure has worked well in the state. Both current US Senator Bill Cassidy and fellow Republican Rob Maness tied Obama around then-US Senator Mary Landrieu’s neck.  In 2010, Vitter did the same in trouncing Democrat Congressman Charlie Melancon.

Getting votes by association with popular national figures works here in Louisiana when the national figure is greatly disliked.  We’re not quite sure how it will succeed with a popular president of the same party in a raw red state-- especially since the main opponent can point to a real record of support for the head of the party and not just words.

Read 2097 times Last modified on Wednesday, 14 August 2019 17:32
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