President Donald Trump gestures towards members on the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, after returning from United Nations General Assembly. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Louisiana is a deep red state with a deep blue governor.
John Bel Edwards, despite his pro-life views, has been a classic Democrat while in office. He has threatened to cut everything from nursing homes to LSU football in an effort to get taxes raises. He forced through a partial renewal of an expiring tax and dared to call it a tax cut. He passed a teacher salary increase that was just enough to put good money in the coffers of the teachers unions while the teachers themselves end up only seeing somewhere between $12-50 per month in increased pay.
Meanwhile, the state’s population is shrinking as jobs flee and the citizens follow them. There is virtually nothing to keep many young, college-educated workers in the state, and blue-collar workers have watched Edwards’ allies sue oil and gas jobs out of the state and manufacturing jobs shut down.
Morning Consult, meanwhile, has President Donald Trump with a +15 net favorability rating, and the lowest number you can find in any poll as far as approval goes is 54%. Among Republicans, his favorability is 94%.
With a gubernatorial race coming up this Saturday, and with every major candidate in the race making their support or relationship with Trump a central issue, it’s becoming a race to watch if you want to see the effect of the all the impeachment talk going on in Washington D.C.
Clearly it’s important to Trump that the Republicans make a strong showing since both of the major Republican candidates have publicly expressed their support of him. He put out a call to Republican voters last week to be sure to vote for either of the Republicans – Congressman Ralph Abraham or Eddie Rispone – and announced over the weekend that he would be in the state this Friday, the day before the election, to rally voters. Mike Pence was in the state for a rally last Friday, and Donald Trump Jr. will be in the state today.
This type of push, when there are two Republican candidates and a Democrat going into a jungle primary means that Trump isn’t just interested in beating Edwards. He’s using the state’s Republican turnout as a gauge of support for him.
And, there may be signs that Republicans are more motivated in this election cycle. In 2015, Democrats had a major advantage in the early voting turnout. As of Friday, Republicans were almost neck and neck with them. Much of those numbers came in before Trump’s rallying cry, and Louisiana’s voters have several motivating factors to get them out of the polls. If Trump makes this election about him, however, that will affect Election Day voting, which could make or break Louisiana Republicans’ efforts to dethrone Edwards.
Trump sees this as a chance to use Louisiana as a bellwether. Our weird election calendar means that we have a gubernatorial election the year before the U.S. has a presidential election. Normally, being a deep-red state would make that fact meaningless. But being a deep-red state with a Democratic governor makes it a more interesting election cycle, because the Republican in power needs his base motivated if he has any hopes of staying in power. If they aren’t motivated now, how motivated will they be in sixth months or a year when the impeachment inquiry has been going on (assuming proceedings haven’t begun yet)?
On the one hand, there comes a point when the Democratic Party has cried “Wolf!” enough to make voters stop paying attention. On the other hand, constant negative coverage from a media that wants impeachment proceedings as badly as Democrats do will have an effect on the morale of voters. The Trump team wants to see which of those scenarios is taking hold in Louisiana by making the gubernatorial election about the president.
It’s a risky play, though, and could hurt the party. Edwards is polling dangerously close to not needing a runoff, and if enough Republicans in the state decide they don’t care about Trump, then they would simply stay home. That would be bad for Trump and Louisiana. On the other hand, if Trump does successfully motivate voters, he can point to this race as a sign to keep doing what he’s doing.
Polls will close at 8 p.m. (CT) in Louisiana, and not too long after that, we’ll see if Trump has something to worry about.