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Jindal’s approval rating takes another hit

18th February 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Christopher Tidmore
Contributing Writer

A second poll in as many weeks has the Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s approval ratings plummeting in the Pelican State as his national ambitions grow. The PPP survey also shows U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu in striking distance of re-election, yet still in danger, especially if her opponent is Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne.

The findings of the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling service mirror those of the DC-based pollster VCR, showing that Jindal now enjoys greater disapproval ratings than approval amongst Louisiana voters, with only 37 percent of the local electorate backing him versus 57 percent who disapprove. That contrasts with PPP’s last survey in Louisiana in 2010, where 58 percent of voters said they approved of Jindal’s job performance while a mere 34 percent disapproved. (Last week’s VCR poll showed that 21.0 percent of Louisianians “approve-strongly” Governor Jindal, 24.9 percent “approve-somewhat”. That 45.9 percent approval rating for Bobby Jindal stands in contrast to a disapproval rating of 48.4 percent (11.8 percent “disapprove-somewhat” & 36.6 percent “disapprove-strongly”).

More worrisome for Jindal — as he seeks a two-thirds majority of legislators for his income-sales tax swap—is that Republicans seem to be cooling on the Louisiana governor. Support has fallen 22 points since the 2010 survey, (81-13 to 59-35). Jindal has also lost his “higher than normal amount of crossover support from Democrats,” according to PPP, going from 33-58 to 15-78.

The clearest indication perhaps comes from the Governor’s potential match up numbers against Mary Landrieu. When postulated as a 2014 U.S. Senate candidate, Jindal who once trounced Landrieu in matchup, now trails the Senior Senator 49/41 in a potential matchup.

In fact, Landrieu leads all seven LA Republicans tested against her by PPP. Congressmen Jeff Landry, John Fleming, Steve Scalise, Bill Cassidy, and Charles Boustany rank at 48/39, 50/38, 48/38, 50/38, and 48/42 respectively.

Only Lafayette Rep. Charles Boustany comes within six points of beating her, holding Landrieu below the critical 50 percent mark. A past truism of Louisiana politics has been that a Democrat must win Acadiana to prevail statewide, and Boustany makes that difficult according to the survey.

Not impossible, however. Mary Landrieu and her brother Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans, unique amongst Democrats, enjoy a strong following in normally GOP Jefferson Parish and metro New Orleans which has provided the salvation for the Senior Senator in past races, and helped her brother win the Lt. Governor’s position twice, before he assumed the New Orleans’ mayoral post.

In fact, putting traditional political wisdom on its head, the strongest contender against Mary Landrieu proved to be Mitch’s successor, Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, trailing just 46/43. That is well within the four percent statistical margin of error.

The leftwing political website Daily Kos told its readers on Thursday not to fret. They predicted that Dardenne would likely seek to ascend to the governorship, rather than stand for the Senate. That assurance contrasted with recent events in Washington that point to U.S. Senator David Vitter strongly considering a bid for the Governor’s Mansion.

Vitter, called “rehabilitated” in a recent article, has had two SuperPACs established on his behalf to raise money for a possible bid in Louisiana. The Republican Senator served as the captian of the Washington Mardi Gras Ball, often signaling the apex of political power amongst the Louisiana elite in the nation’s capital. Most re­markably, Vitter has become something of a bipartisan player, sponsoring legislation with Ohio’s Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown that would break up the “too big to fail” banks that hold 120 percent of U.S. GDP in their portfolios. It was a move of regulation that drew the praise of both leftwing Mother Jones magazine and the rightwing columnist George Will.

The Governor’s office had been an objective of Vitter’s since his time as LA’s First District Congressman. Back in 2003, he had transfered his federal campaign funds to a Louisiana account in anticipation of a bid (just before the law was changed to prohibit the practice) Reportedly, Vitter was dissuaded from that bid thanks to a threat from Mike Foster. The former GOP Governor pledged that “certain information” would be revealed if Vitter did run. That secret which dissuaded the Congressman proved to be the Wendy Cortez prostitute scandal first revealed in the pages of The Louisiana Weekly, and later made famous as part of the DC Madam case.

Separate polls have shown, though, that the Louisiana electorate forgave Vitter, regardless of whether the affair was not totally forgotten. The voters certainly did not care in 2010 when previously popular Conservative Democratic Congress­man Charlie Melancon lost to Vitter by more than ten points, indicating a real potential should the Senator run for the Governorship.

While the antipathy between Jay Dardenne and David Vitter is well known in GOP circles (and almost rivals the near detestment felt by Jindal’s circle for Vitter). Baton Rouge insiders predict to this newspaper that the Lt. Governor would likely not opt for a brutal, well-financed bid against Vitter when a Senate race might prove an alternative possibility in 2014.

Of course, while federal law prohibits the promise of an office in exchange for political support,, Vitter could insure a clear field for Dardenne by making it known privately that the Lt. Governor could be his chosen, appointed successor should the GOP Senator prove successful in his gubernatorial bid. Waiting two more years as Lt. Governor might be preferable than an expensive battle against Landrieu next year.

Still, PPP found that New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is seen pretty positively statewide, with 49 percent of voters rating him favorably to 26 percent with an unfavorable opinion. In a hypothetical contest with Senator David Vitter, who has a 46/38 approval rating, the two would be tied at 44 percent. Landrieu would have a slight edge over Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne at 44-42. If Landrieu decided to run it appears that it would be a competitive race.

Regardless, as for his sister, PPP’s Dean Debnan predicted, “Mary Landrieu’s near 50 percent, and in a much stronger position for re-election probably than most people would have expected.” Though, he warned, that the numbers will get closer because “most of the Republicans have low name recognition.

The poll surveyed 603 from February 8 to 12, well after Jindal proposed his recent sales-income tax swap. However, also worth noting is that 54 percent of respondents voted for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama, lower than the 59 percent results statewide. And, over 25 percent of the poll respondents were African-American versus 70 percent white, a slightly different dynamic than the average composition of the Louisiana electorate. Conservatives outnumbered liberals 2-1, with self-described moderates making up 28 percent of the survey.

Only 24 percent of voters in Louisiana think Bobby Jindal should run for President in 2016 to 66 percent who think he should not. Even among Republicans just 35 percent would like to see him make a white House bid. In a hypothetical GOP primary field in the state Jindal finishes third at 14 percent. Marco Rubio leads the way with 21 percent to 18 percent for Mike Huckabee and after Jindal it’s Chris Christie at 11 percent, Jeb Bush at nine percent, Rand Paul at 8 percent, Paul Ryan at seven percent, Rick Perry at three percent, and Susana Martinez at one percent.

Louisiana returns to the list of states where Hillary Clinton might be competitive with a 2016 Presidential bid, at least at this stage. The former Secretary of State has a 46/44 favorability rating in the state and has a three point lead over Jindal (48/45) and Rubio (46/43) in hypothetical match ups. She ties Ryan at 46.

Moreover, the Pelican State mirrors what PPP found in most southern states when it comes to legal rights for same sex couples- its voters oppose gay marriage but would support civil unions. Only 29 percent of voters in the state think same sex marriage should be legal to 59 percent who believe it should be illegal. But 54 percent of voters at least support civil unions to only 41 percent who think there should be no recognition at all for gay couples.

PPP asked questions regarding an historical event in Louisiana. In a rematch of the 1991 Gubernatorial race Edwin Edwards would beat David Duke by a much wider margin than he did the first time around, 62/15. He would even win 44/24 with Republican. Edwards has a 42/44 favorability rating in the state, pretty decent numbers for a politician who’s done time. His numbers are better than Barack Obama and Bobby Jindal’s there.

A 38 percent plurality of Louisianans have no opinion about Huey Long. Those who do have one see him positively by a 36/26 margin. Democrats (42/19) like him, Republicans (30/35) don’t.

This article was originally published in the February 18, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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