Voting outside the lines: Why Trump supporters decided to vote for Edwards

Veteran

Published: December 20, 2019

By: Ben Baumgardner and Catherine Hunt, LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE—Every year at Denham Springs Junior High, Elizabeth Rea gives her students a quiz to help them to formulate their own political opinions.

“I take it with them, and depending on what kinds of questions are asked, my opinions change over time,” she said. “On some issues, I’m more moderate now as I’ve gotten older.”

Rea, who used to be the most conservative member of her family, found herself siding with Democratic incumbent John Bel Edwards in last month’s gubernatorial election.

Edwards remains the only Democratic governor in the Deep South, even though President Donald Trump, who is popular in Louisiana, campaigned strongly against him. To win re-election, Edwards needed support from some voters like Rea who voted for the president in 2016.

What drove some supporters of the Republican president to vote for the Democratic governor?

Some Trump-Edwards voters said in interviews that the dynamics of the governor’s race differed greatly from those of the 2016 presidential election, when some voted for Trump only as a way to ensure that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton would not be elected president.

Mike Casteel, 61, of Sulphur, said his vote for Trump was a vote against Clinton.

“I’m not a party-line voter, but I just didn’t want to take any chances with Hillary or anyone associated with her,” he said.

Makenzie Morgan, a 21-year-old college student in Baton Rouge, agreed that the 2016 election “was kind of choosing between the lesser of two evils.”

Yet, she and others said, the similarities between Trump and Edwards’ recent Republican opponent, Eddie Rispone, became red flags to them.

“I think Rispone aligning himself with Trump so much made me not like him more,” said Morgan. “Yes, Trump has done some good things for the national economy, but you can’t just say you’re going to be the Trump of Louisiana and expect to win.”

Read more at the Shreveport Times.

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