Thursday, November 5, 2015

Louisiana's Republican lieutenant governor endorses Democrat for governor over David Vitter

The amazing Louisiana governor's race just keeps getting amazing-er. On Thursday morning, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, a Republican who finished fourth in the primary with 15 percent, endorsed Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards in the Nov. 21 runoff. In announcing his support for Edwards, Dardenne was particularly scathing toward his fellow Republicans:
"The Republican brand has been damaged by the failed leadership of Bobby Jindal during this last term. David Vitter's governorship will further damage that brand as I and others have pointed out during the campaign. I cannot and will not sit idly by and refuse to speak truth to power."
Obviously this is a guy who doesn't care about his electoral future, because he just signed his political death warrant by unleashing cannon fire on his own party. But Dardenne is not alone in his hostility toward Vitter, who attacked him relentlessly during the primary. The third-place finisher, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, has likewise refused to back Vitter, and many Angelle and Dardenne voters are also siding with Edwards, as shown by the trio of post-primary polls that all have the Democrat over 50 percent and leading Vitter by double digits.

But as we just saw in Kentucky on Tuesday night, you should be particularly skeptical when you're only looking at a smattering of polls, and especially when they're showing good news for a Democrat running in a red state in an off-year election. HuffPo Pollster's final average had Jack Conway leading Matt Bevin by 2 points, but Bevin won by almost 9.

That said, these new Louisiana polls have Edwards up by an average of 16 points, so even if they're wrong by as much as the Kentucky polls were, Edwards would still be ahead. But there's still two weeks to go, and Republicans will keep hammering Edwards as an Obama apparatchik, the same strategy that worked in Kentucky. So it would still be a huge upset if Edwards won, but if Dardenne's very public decision gives cover for other Republicans to defect, his heavy lift just got a bit lighter.

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