Democratic governor John Bel Edwards of Louisiana damaged his standing with likely voters in his own party by signing restrictive abortion legislation, with many saying they'd be open to opposing his reelection and supporting a primary challenger, according to a new poll.
Edwards, now in the last year of his first term as governor, recently put his signature on bipartisan legislation making it illegal to perform an abortion once a heartbeat is detected. Voters quickly took notice.
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A poll of registered Democratic voters conducted by We Ask America just days after the bill was signed into law found that 81 percent of respondents were already aware of Edwards's decision, with a whopping 92 percent of young registered voters saying they knew about the legislation. Unsurprisingly, 60 percent of respondents said they opposed his abortion stance, including 80 percent of young voters.
Many are so displeased with Edwards that they want him to pay for his abortion stance with a primary challenge, the poll found. Forty-two percent of Democrats and 64 percent of young Democrats said they would like another Democratic candidate to be on the ballot in October.
The poll also found that only 57 percent of young registered voters polled were "certain" they'd vote in October.
Edwards, who is personally pro-life, was put in a politically tough spot with the abortion legislation coming to his desk in an election year. A majority of adults in the state believe abortion should be illegal in most cases, but, as the above-mentioned poll found, restricting abortion remains highly unpopular with politically engaged Democrats.
"Governor John Bel Edwards took a major political risk signing Louisiana's abortion bill recently and could pay the price as he seeks reelection this fall," We Ask America explains. "As it stands, younger, more liberal Democrats will be crucial for Governor Edwards to compete, not only in the October primary, but in a likely November run-off against one of the two declared Republican candidates. Those same young Democrats, though, are not nearly as committed to voting as older Democrats, and Governor Edwards's position on abortion threatens to dampen their enthusiasm in turning out to vote, complicating a crucial element of Edwards's path towards reelection."
The Free Beacon reported last week that Democrats in the state legislature are aware of the political problem the abortion issue causes Edwards and made a "strategic decision" to delay a major abortion ballot initiative.
The most high-profile Republican challenging Edwards is Rep. Ralph Abraham, whose campaign released a poll last week showing him currently in a dead-heat with the incumbent.