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Louisiana poll shows Rispone edging past Abraham for governor

From: The Center Square

A new poll of the Louisiana governor’s race shows businessman Eddie Rispone edging ahead of Congressman Ralph Abraham, though Rispone’s advantage is within the margin of error.

The two Republicans are competing to be the main challenger to Gov. John Bel Edwards, the only Democratic governor in the deep South.

The poll, taken on the day of the first televised debate and two days after, shows Edwards in the lead with 46 percent support, followed by Rispone at 21 percent and Abraham at 18 percent. The margin of error was 4.2 percent.

The Louisiana Association of Health Plans commissioned Baton Rouge-based JMC Analytics and Polling to conduct the survey, which also found a tight race between two Republicans vying to be the state’s insurance commissioner. The poll found 22 percent of potential voters support incumbent Jim Donelon, 20 percent support former insurance executive Tim Temple, and a whopping 58 percent are undecided.

There are no party primaries in Louisiana. All candidates for contested offices will compete against each other on Oct. 12; if no candidate wins more than half of the votes, the top two face off in a November runoff election.

“Can Governor Edwards win in the first primary?” JMC founder John Couvillion writes in his analysis of the results. “While the data didn’t show this to be a possibility last week, it is in the realm of possibility now.”

Including people who are leaning toward Edwards with the 2 percent of the black voters who are undecided gets the incumbent to 50 percent. Meanwhile, fellow Democrat Omar Dantzler is polling at 2 percent.

Bill Skelly, a strategist and analyst with Abraham’s campaign, in a press release called JMC’s poll a “fantasy-land survey,” casting doubt on Rispone’s 11-point bump from the pollster’s last survey to the new one released Monday. He also criticized Rispone for attacking Abraham in recent ads.

“From the first day of this race, every Republican in Louisiana understood that in-party fighting would be the only thing that could propel John Bel Edwards to a victory,” he said.

Rispone said Monday that his performance in Thursday night’s televised debate, where he touted his business experience, helped to boost his poll numbers.

“We’re working very hard getting our message out,” Rispone said.

Richard Carbo, spokesman for Edwards’ campaign, said the new poll shows support for Edwards growing.

“We’re very confident about where we are,” he said.

JMC conducted the poll Sept. 19-21, Couvillion says. The first televised debate was held Sept. 19.

The same poll found 69 percent in favor of price controls for prescription drugs and 76 percent against letting radiologists, anesthesiologists and pathologists charge when they are not in patients’ health insurance plan networks.

The three candidates for governor will debate again at noon today, Sept. 23, at a meeting of the Baton Rouge Press Club.