BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Most Louisiana voters say they like the job Gov. John Bel Edwards is doing, according to an exclusive WAFB | Raycom Media poll.
Edwards has only been in office for almost 10 months, but he has had to deal with tragedy after tragedy.
Edwards hit the ground running January 11 and has not stopped. He has been faced with a huge budget mess and several catastrophes.
"It's been nine months and 10 days. It's been a challenge for a lot of reasons, a fiscal disaster, natural disasters, shootings of police, but I feel privileged and honored to be governor of the great state of Louisiana," Edwards said at a recent naturalization ceremony in New Orleans.
This summer, he dealt with the Baton Rouge police shooting of Alton Sterling, the shootings of six Baton Rouge-area law enforcement officers and historic flooding in several parishes including cities like Baton Rouge, Denham Springs, and Lafayette.
Now voters are signaling what kind of job they think he is doing since he took office.
The poll asked 625 registered Louisiana voters to rate the governor and more than half the voters statewide (55 percent) said his performance on the job is excellent or good.
Breaking down the ratings, 18 percent said his performance has been excellent, 37 percent called it pretty good, 28 percent rated him as fair and 12 percent said he is doing a poor job.
"John Bel Edwards' numbers are good and they would be good for anybody but especially for a Democrat in a Republican state," said political analyst Jim Engster.
"Obviously I'm gratified by the numbers reflected in the poll, but I understand that's a snapshot in time and my job is to get up every day and serve people best I can and my pledge as governor is to continue to do that," Edwards said, not overplaying the results.
By region, only seven percent say he is doing an excellent job in the Baton Rouge area, where all three tragedies happened over the summer. In the Capital area, Edwards was mainly rated good with 45 percent and fair with 28 percent.
In the New Orleans Metro Area, Edwards received excellent marks from 19 percent of voters polled. He got an excellent vote from 25 percent of voters in south central Louisiana and from 21 percent in the northern part of the state.
More than 60 percent of female voters surveyed gave the governor excellent (22 percent) or pretty good (40 percent) marks compared to 48 percent of men (15 percent for excellent, 33 percent for good).
Almost a quarter of male voters polled rated the governor as doing a poor job compared to just four percent of female voters.
"I'm not going to go there, but I appreciate the fact that I get support wherever it comes from," Edwards said, not speculating on those numbers.
Engster said it is not uncommon for a Democrat to poll well with women.
"I think that's largely the case. Democrats do better with women than do Republicans and [Edwards] right now has a 14 point more favorable area with women," Engster said.
Another area Engster said plays out as expected is with race as nearly 80 percent of black voters rated the governor's performance in his first year as excellent (29 percent) or good (51 percent) compared to 46 percent of white voters (14 percent for excellent, 32 percent for good).
Perhaps what is most surprising is the fact that when looking at the breakdown across party lines, it is pretty even as 65 percent of Democrats favor the governor with 22 percent saying excellent and 43 percent saying good.
At this point, even 45 percent of Republicans agree with 10 percent saying excellent and 35 percent saying good, and 50 percent of independents polled gave Edwards an excellent or good rating.
Considering every statewide official, except for Edwards, is a Republican and both houses of the legislature are also majority GOP, Engster said the governor will have a lot of work to do between now and the next election.
"These number truly are a snapshot and I'm not sure they have a whole lot of relevance as we move forward because one thing is for sure," Engster said. "He will have several candidates running against him when he runs for re-election."
The poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research. The margin of error for the poll was less than four points.