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Poll suggests electoral peril for LA govt elites

A recent poll of upcoming statewide elections provides one surprise and two grimmer confirmations.

The Hayride website commissioned a survey on a variety of issues and contests, including this fall’s secretary of state contest and next year’s governor and lieutenant governor races. It was done over two nights last week with 1,615 likely voters responding.

MacAoidh has reviewed the results thoroughly here, but some points need amplification. While Republican incumbent Kyle Ardoin expectedly leads in an SOS field at 13 percent with Democrat former SOS administrator Renee Free expectedly running second at 10 percent with about half the respondents expectedly undecided, the surprise comes in the form of (tied for) third placing GOP Turkey Creek Mayor Heather Cloud at 8 percent.

Thus, the chief executive of a village in central Louisiana with a few hundred inhabitants and despite a relatively late start is running with or exceeding efforts made a former state senator and two current state representatives of her party from major urban areas. Part of this has to do with financing, as Cloud lent herself over $100,000 to kickstart her candidacy.

Still, her competitors have hit the hustings and airwaves as well and have raised significant dollars, yet have trouble at this point keeping up with her. Perhaps her own compelling story as a victim of election fraud (she fingers Ardoin as reluctant to pursue tightening the laws in this regard) has caught people’s attention; the SOS oversees elections.

This result could vault her in the upper echelon of candidates. By scoring a comparatively good number, this may encourage doors skeptical of a tiny-town mayor’s chances to win that she has the goods to succeed.

By contrast, the numbers for Republican Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser show a candidacy in trouble. Past state legal seconds-in-command most often leave office chasing the governorship; only a couple ever have lost (in the 1974 Constitution era). Nungesser looks set to join that minority, with only 37 percent of the sample saying they would reelect him while 42 percent prefer somebody else.

Historically, when someone replies to a survey he wants “someone new” in an office, in almost every instance that’s a death knell to capturing that person’s vote. There’s little chance, especially in such a low-profile office, that Nungesser can do anything to win back these people over the next year and a few weeks. Term-limited legislators must have started salivated when they saw these numbers.

The same dynamic doesn’t bode well for Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, either. With numbers of definitely reelect at 43 percent but wanting someone new at 46 percent, there’s no optimistic way to spin that. With the highest profile position in state government, that affords him some opportunities to change minds. But given as well the undecided almost always break for a challenger or don’t vote, this suggests a ceiling of around 45 percent for him next year unless he gets a miraculously large number of chances to turn things around.

Even worse for him, while predictably large proportions of Republicans want someone new but most Democrats say they’ll tap the screen for him – although other numbers imply only about half of white Democrats agreed with that – Edwards as this point has more independent and other party respondents hankering for a new face than who want to keep him. And at least one new face – GOP Sen. John Kennedy – would defeat Edwards decisively, according to the data.

MacAoidh wonders whether a general desire in the electorate to challenge established figures doesn’t drive what the poll numbers indicate. Regardless whether this, policy, or something else explains the current results, a shakeup of the existing order at this point does seem more likely than not.

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