Though the next full round of statewide elections is more than two years away, how do Governor John Bel Edwards’ chances for re-election look?
“I would say about 50-50,” pollster John Couvillon of JMC Analytics told the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday.
“Even though he has the benefits of incumbency, it’s also becoming very tough to be a Democrat in Louisiana.”
Overall, Couvillon believes Edwards “broke even” with voters during a difficult first year in office.
“He got a very good bump from last year’s flooding and demonstrations here in Baton Rouge because he gave off an aura of being in command.”
Couvillon says though he’s had to battle the legislature over the budget, the governor hasn’t lost citizen support on that front, so far.
“To me, it’s kind of natural political physics that anybody who started off a term with the budget in as deep of a hole as it was, it can’t get any worse than it’s been. His challenge is, he’s certainly not had a honeymoon. He needs some big wins.”
And with a legislative agenda this year that includes criminal justice reform and an overhaul of the state tax system, the governor could achieve those needed wins.
“If he can get a gas tax passed and/or find a way to more adequately fund the roads, I think he would get a lot of gratitude from voters here,” Couvillon says, by way of an example.
This session could also make or break 2019 re-election chances for lawmakers, since it’s their one chance to fix the $1.2-billion fiscal cliff they created for 2018, when they enacted temporary taxes last year.
“No legislator would want to be responsible for a fiscal Armageddon like that, when the easiest thing to do is just to vote to renew them.”
Of course, challengers could use those tax renewals against incumbent legislators, just as they could use the devastation of failing to put the state’s fiscal affairs in order. Either way, challengers and voters will be watching.