October 27, 2023 9:00am

Here's why Jeff Landry won so handily

Power Poll voters are also predicting an upset in the mayor-president's race

Photo of Adam Daigle
Lafayette, LA Correspondent
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Let’s just get down to it: How did Jeff Landry score such a landslide win in race for governor?

Lots of Power Poll Lafayette voters pointed to one thing: voter turnout. Or, more specifically, the lack thereof. It’s an important factor in any race. One that will be pivotal in next month’s runoff for mayor-president of Lafayette Parish, which voters have an interesting take on.

But first, let’s talk the governor’s race, one that most predicted would go to a runoff.

Landry smoked the field, garnering 52% of the vote to skip a runoff election and start assembling a transitional team on his way to becoming the 57th governor in the state’s history. Voter turnout, however, was at 35.8%, lower than the last two governor’s races.

So what happened? Power Poll voters were given five scenarios that were tossed around in the days following the election, and 39% pointed the finger at low voter turnout, particularly among Democrats. In the governor’s race, there were 1,062,498 votes were cast, the lowest since the 2011 election and the second-lowest in the Secretary of State’s database, which goes back to the 1983 election – when just over 1.6 million votes were cast.

Abram Freeman, pastor at Acts of Love Christian Fellowship in Lafayette, wrote that he was one of those working to get more people out to vote. Those voters he met were disenchanted with the system, he indicated, and were convinced their vote would not count.

“In addition to that, the get out the vote campaign was not heavy anywhere in this state, especially in our area,” Freeman wrote. “I am embarrassed by these numbers in our state and think that we as a state needs to do better in educating our people on the importance of voting and expressing their desires at the ballot box. Too many people were killed and Hurt fighting for their right to vote.”

Other scenarios got support from voters: 21% indicated none of the other candidates ever got voters excited, 18% favored Landry’s early nomination from the Republic Party virtually shut out other GOP candidates, 12% said Landry was simply the best candidate and 10% indicated Shawn Wilson’s poor showing was a sign that the state’s Democratic Party is in disarray.

“It's hard for Dems to win at a state level,” wrote Mike Bass, owner and IT consultant with Bass Consulting. “The early GOP endorsement of Landry sealed that race, shutting out other potentially strong candidates like Billy Nungesser. That said, Landry had been lining up the blocks for this run for the last four-plus years.”

That’s perhaps why most voters were not taken aback with Landry’s one-sided win. The two-term attorney general scored the first primary win by a first-time candidate in state history, but nearly half of Power Poll voters indicated they had a feeling that would happen and 32% saying they were somewhat surprised by the result.

Yet how the next four years shape up for the state is anyone’s guess, if you ask Power Poll voters. Landry will have a supermajority to work with in the Legislature.

Asked about their outlook for the upcoming Landry term, 30% are very pessimistic, 27% are somewhat optimistic, 22% are somewhat pessimistic and 21% are very optimistic.

Mayor-President’s race: Earlier polls, including this one, held true for the outcome of the race for mayor-president with incumbent Josh Guillory failing to gain enough votes to win without a runoff. He claimed 40% of the vote with Monique Boulet coming in second with 34%.

As for predicting a winner in the Nov. 18 runoff, Power Poll voters gave Boulet the nod as nearly half predicted she will unseat Guillory. Only 26% predicted Guillory will win the race, and 16% said the race is too close to call.

All eyes will be on the nearly 15,000 votes challenger Jan Swift got in the primary and which candidate they will support – if they vote at all.

“The mayor-president’s race,” wrote Bill Leyendecker, retired educator and former recreation centers manager for LCG, “will be determined not by past performance or future promise but by voter turnout.”

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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