How much does the state of Louisiana love its football? Potentially enough to sway a gubernatorial election.
The state’s Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, was re-elected Saturday night, beating Republican challenger Eddie Rispone by a slim margin — 51% to 49%, or about 40,000 votes.
A week earlier, No. 2 LSU beat No. 3 Alabama, 46-41, in a defining victory for the program.
Correlation is not causation, but people in politics apparently believe in a link between the two occurrences, according to NBC’s Dave Wasserman:
The final margin is likely to be very close. A Dem strategist I just spoke with credits LSU's win vs. Alabama for voters' satisfaction w/ direction of state & Edwards's razor-thin victory. #LAGOV— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) November 17, 2019
So, to summarize this sentiment: The state’s premier college football program winning a huge rivalry game over Alabama convinced enough voters that Louisiana was headed in the right direction under Edwards, who has held the post since 2016.
Leaving politics aside, that is an incredible thought. But football is like religion in SEC country. Edwards admitted that it is easier to do his job when the state’s teams — LSU and the New Orleans Saints — are winning.
“People are just in a better mood,” he told The New York Times.
Orgeron endorsed Edwards
That better mood might have given Edwards the push to win re-election in a nationalized race that saw President Trump campaign hard for Rispone. It also didn’t hurt to have Ed Orgeron, LSU’s football coach, back him. Orgeron introduced Edwards at a fundraiser earlier this year and Edwards returned the favor last week by calling into Orgeron’s radio show.
“I know the state of Louisiana believes in him just like a championship quarterback,” Orgeron said of Edwards.
In fact, Orgeron’s endorsement of Edwards has been criticized by Louisiana Republicans who claim that Orgeron is politicizing LSU football. As an employee of a public university, Orgeron’s boss ostensibly is Edwards.
Look, there are a number of reasons why Louisiana’s gubernatorial election went the way it did. Thinking that a football team winning played a role is silly — but what if ... what if it really did?
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