Poll: Gov. Edwards has high approval rating, but re-election bid could be challenging

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BATON ROUGE, LA - AUGUST 19: Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards speaks during a press conference to update the public on FEMA's disaster recover and temporary housing programs on August 19, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Last week Louisiana was overwhelmed with flood water causing at least thirteen deaths and thousands of damaged homes. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

BATON ROUGE — Gov. John Bel Edwards has a high approval rating as he enters his third year in office, but a new poll says his re-election bid could be “very competitive” if a high-profile Republican challenges him.

According to a new poll released by the Jacksonville, Florida-based Mason-Dixon Polling group, 55 percent of Louisiana voters approve of Edwards’ job performance. Only 31 percent of voters disapprove of his performance, while 14 percent are unsure.

But if a high-profile Republican like U.S. Sen. John Kennedy or U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise decides to run in 2019, it would likely be a very competitive race, the poll found:

Statewide, Edwards holds an insignificant 45%-44% lead over Kennedy and just a narrow 46%-43% advantage over Scalise. When matched against Representative Ralph Abraham, Edwards enjoys a more comfortable 51%-28% margin.

The pollsters interviewed 625 Louisiana voters by telephone. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Edwards’ first order of business when he took office was expanding Medicaid for more than 430,000 people in Louisiana.

The poll’s release on Thursday (March 1) comes as Edwards struggles with the Louisiana Legislature to pass a series of permanent taxes that would help fill a nearly $1 billion budget gap. The Legislature’s special session is on the verge of collapse with none of those taxes coming to fruition.