Louisiana’s incumbent Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards was re-elected to another four year term by a narrow 2.6 percent margin over Republican challenger Eddie Rispone on Saturday.
Edwards held a 51.3 percent to 48.7 percent lead over Rispone with 99.9 percent of the precincts reporting as of 11:35 eastern time, half an hour after the Associated Press called the runoff race for Edwards. Rispone called Edwards at 11:20 pm eastern time and conceded.
The runoff race was called for after Edwards failed to win the 50 percent needed in the October 12 jungle primary to be declared the winner in that earlier election. Rispone, a self-made Baton Rouge-based businessman, finished second in the jungle primary, thereby qualifying for Saturday’s runoff. Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA) finished third and missed making the two-person runoff election.
Polls leading up to Saturday’s election called the race too close to call.
Two factors helped drive Edwards’ win, according to several post-election analyses: (1) Higher turnout by black voters, who supported Edwards by an 87 percent to seven percent margin, according to the final pre-election poll conducted by JMC Analytics and Polling, and (2) Disaffection among some Republican supporters of Abraham.
Though Abraham was quick to endorse Rispone’s candidacy immediately after the results of the October 12 jungle primary were announced, some voters who backed him were apparently less forgiving of Rispone’s pre-jungle primary political attack ads that focused on him, rather than Edwards.
Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report tweeted that one Democrat strategist suggested that a third factor may have played a role in Edward’s win: LSU head football coach Ed Orgeron’s endorsement of Edwards, combined with LSU’s big win over Alabama last Saturday:
The final margin is likely to be very close. A Dem strategist I just spoke with credits LSU’s win vs. Alabama for voters’ satisfaction w/ direction of state & Edwards’s razor-thin victory. #LAGOV
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) November 17, 2019
President Trump held two rallies in the state, one in Bossier City and another in Monroe, in November to support Rispone’s campaign.
Earlier this month, Republican Tate Reeves was elected governor of Mississippi, while incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin was narrowly defeated in his campaign for re-election by Democrat Andy Beshear.
Mainstream media analysts have painted the Democrat victories in Kentucky and Louisiana as bellwether indicators of what may be in store for Republicans in the 2020 election. Those losses, however, appear to be more related to the unique characteristics of the Republican candidates in those states than they are an indicator of attitudes towards Republicans in general and of President Trump.
In Kentucky for instance, Republicans swept to victory in all five of the other statewide offices on the ballot earlier this month.