Jeff Landry continues to lead in the governor’s race, followed by Shawn Wilson

Jeff Landry continues to hold a sizable lead in the governor’s race less than two months before the primary election, a new poll shows, while Shawn Wilson is the only one of the other six candidates to break single digits.

Landry collected 36% of the vote, Wilson received 26%, and none of the other five candidates won above 7%, according to a poll commissioned by The Advocate, The Urban League of Louisiana, WWL-TV of New Orleans, The Public Affairs Research Council of Baton Rouge, KATC-TV of Lafayette, WBRZ-TV of Baton Rouge and KTBS-TV of Shreveport.

The same groups are organizing a 60-minute statewide televised debate of the gubernatorial candidates on Sept. 7 as the race begins to heat up in earnest.

The poll indicates that Landry, the Republican attorney general, and Wilson, the only Democrat in the race, remain positioned to finish in the top two spots in the Oct. 14 primary and advance to the runoff election, which will be held on Nov. 18. The two have led the field throughout the campaign.

Landry is leading Wilson, a former state transportation secretary, in a hypothetical match-up, 54% to 36%, with 10% undecided. Wilson is attempting to be the first Black candidate elected statewide in 150 years, at a time when Republicans hold nearly all the levers of power in Louisiana.

New Orleans pollster Ron Faucheux, whose Faucheux Strategies conducted the poll on behalf of the news and nonpartisan organizations, said Landry is benefiting from his time in the public eye over the past seven years as attorney general and from his endorsements by the Louisiana Republican Party and former President Donald Trump, who won Louisiana in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. Trump also had a 50% favorable rating, compared to a 44% unfavorable rating, in the poll.

Wilson and the other five candidates are having trouble gaining traction because they remain largely unknown to voters.


Louisiana attorney general Jeff Landry addresses supporters for his gubernatorial campaign Wednesday evening, August 9, 2023, at the Texas Club in Baton Rouge, La.

The others are political independent Hunter Lundy, with 7% of the vote, and four Republicans: former business lobbyist Stephen Waguespack, 6%; Treasurer John Schroder, 4%; state Sen. Sharon Hewitt of Slidell, 3%; and state Rep. Richard Nelson of Mandeville, 2%.

At least 60% of voters don’t know Wilson or the other five well enough to offer a favorable or unfavorable opinion of them.

“It’s hard to win a race if voters don’t know who you are,” Faucheux said in an interview.

In contrast, only 22% of voters don’t have an opinion of Landry. Of those who do, 50% have a favorable opinion, while only 28% have an unfavorable one.

The top five candidates in the poll will be invited to appear at the debate, to be held at WWL-TV’s New Orleans studio, unless Landry, who has declined to appear with the others at campaign forums, chooses not to participate. That would open a spot for Hewitt but still leave Nelson uninvited.

The poll demonstrates the tall challenges that Lundy and the five Republicans face in their bid to overtake Landry or Wilson to win one of the two spots in the runoff. Those spots will go to the top two vote-getters in the primary, regardless of party affiliation.

In a conservative state polarized by party, the poll found, Landry received 63% of the Republican vote, while none of the other four Republicans garnered more than 9%.

Landry led among independents with 30% of the vote, trailed by Lundy with 18%.

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Gubernatorial candidates, from top left, Sharon Hewitt, Jeff Landry, Hunter Lundy, Richard Nelson, and bottom row from left, John Schroder, Stephen Waguespack, and Shawn Wilson speak during a campaign forum, Wednesday April 26, 2023, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Baton Rouge, La.

At the same time, Landry had $9 million on hand last month, millions of dollars more of campaign cash than the other candidates.

“Their low [name] recognition is limiting their ability to grow their support,” Faucheux said in a memo on the poll results. “Personal campaigning, media messaging and TV ads from the lesser-known candidates, and their friendly PACs, have so far failed to break through to voters.”

Waguespack and Schroder have launched TV ads over the past week in an attempt to begin to break through.

The five also-rans have been arguing that they have time to make their case because voters have yet to begin tuning into the governor’s race. They note how candidates in past elections, notably Buddy Roemer in 1987 and Mike Foster in 1995, shot past their opponents in the final weeks of campaigns to be elected governor.

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Candidate Shawn Wilson (middle) shares contact information Jolene Perkins (left) with following the Black Church Gubernatorial Forum on Saturday, July 8, 2023 at the F.G. Clark Activity Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“For a candidate now running in single digits to emerge as a serious center-right alternative to Landry, that candidate needs to immediately sharpen his or her messages, lay out a clear choice for voters and mount a full-scale attack campaign to increase Landry’s negatives,” Faucheux said in the poll memo. “To open such a path, single-digit contenders may need to reassess their candidacies and consider uniting around one candidate. It would not be easy to make this happen.”

Further reflecting the political polarization, Wilson collected 60% of the Democratic vote, while neither Lundy nor any of the five Republicans won more than 13% from Democrats.

The poll likely undercounted Wilson’s support because he received only 54% of the Black vote, while the Democratic candidate traditionally wins at least 90% of that vote.

“If Wilson can grow his African American support from 54% to 72% in the primary, which is possible, and hold the 12% of White votes he now receives, he’d increase his Election Day strength to 30% or more, depending upon voter turnout,” Faucheux said.

The poll contained good news for Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who has less than five months left in office. Voters approve of his job performance by a 54% to 36% margin.

President Joe Biden’s job rating is underwater, however, with only 36% of voters approving of his performance. 

Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, a Republican heavily favored to win reelection, has the support of 41% of voters surveyed, while 18% disapprove of his performance. The rating for the Republican-controlled Legislature is mixed: 36% of voters approve of that body, while 35% disapprove.

Faucheux’s poll surveyed 800 likely voters by telephone from Aug. 14-19 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.46%. Of those surveyed, 64% were White, 30% were Black and 6% were other.

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