Especially, if you have Bernie Pinsonat, the political analyst and pollster on the other end of your email.
In part two of a continuing interview series with Pinsonat of Southern Media and Opinion Research, we focus upon the upcoming governor's race, education and the common enemy, it seems in these parts of the world, Common Core.
The governor's race is beginning to heat up. From all indications, the election is David Vitter's to lose. What issues this session are going to help him? Hurt him?
Senator David Vitter has a numerical advantage because his traditional base gives him enough voters to make the run off – his challenge is to keep those voters in his column. I do not see a legislative issue having a dramatic effect on his campaign – Senator Vitter served in the House and is very familiar with most issues that occur during most sessions. The biggest issue that posed a danger to Senator David Vitter being elected governor was of course common core. Candidate for governor David Vitter was iffy to be elected governor as a supporter of common core –his base could splinter and he was now no cinch to get the majority of the conservative voters he has always counted on. No survey has ever not shown candidate David Vitter getting sixty plus percent of all republicans and most of the Reagan democrats in North Louisiana. Anti common core voters make up David Vitter’s base – by reversing himself as quickly as he did – Vitter avoids a political disaster. The budget shortfall and the solution or lack of has a big impact on all candidates for governor. The last thing any new governor wants to deal with is raising taxes in his or her first months in office. Using your popularity to raise taxes is possible – not a certainty. The next legislature will be mainly republicans and asking them to raise taxes to solve budget shortfalls in never a done deal you can count on. As SMOR’s year-end survey pointed out just one of the problems - republicans do not want universities cut dramatically, but republicans do not want to pay more taxes to avoid cutting higher education. Republicans are most likely to have a college education and they are the most anti new taxes to pay for funding higher education. Most republican legislators pay little attention to higher education pleas for more revenue , their republican base back home will not un-elect them for not raising tuition or new taxes.
Education reform is always front and center during any legislative session -- will candidates for governor campaign across Louisiana claiming they will improve Louisiana’s low education standing? Here is a little tip for candidates – most voters are tired of education reform legislation. In 1978 Kelly Nix passed the one of most comprehensive student testing and teacher accountability programs in the nation. Rave reviews from all – most declaring Louisiana was on its way to a better educated population. Did not happen! Nope as we are still passing laws today and no end in sight. What about this approach - quit passing new reforms – let’s see if the new ones work before we pass another one. Common Core has certainly exacerbated and complicated reform efforts – common core is now so unpopular, seriously doubt you can pass a bill related to education reform without an argument ensuing over common core. Most of these anti common core parents cannot be sold on any new education reform as a good thing for their kids. Louisiana has been passing education reform legislation for over thirty years and we are still near the bottom –maybe the lack of parental involvement is a factor contributing to Louisiana’s dismal results. We have reformed everything thing but them! Most news articles never mention lack of parental responsibility as a cause – the fingers always seem to point to our elected officials for not fixing our bad education system. Voters get it – they understand this is a serious problem – any survey shows voters think competent teachers are important but they think parental involvement is more important. Every candidate for governor for the last 40 plus years claims he or she will fix education in Louisiana! Really!
You have mentioned Common Core and David Vitter's "evolution" on that issue. How important is Common Core as an issue in the governor's race and how do the other candidates stack up on that controversy?
Great question – interesting story in USA Today – most republican presidential candidates are now either anti-common core or moving away from common core by proposing individual state control. Most candidates for governor are now opposing common core, only Jay Dardenne continues to fully support. Democratic candidate for governor, John Bell Edwards, is opposed to common core – why? This is absolutely a smart decision by John Bell Edwards. He needs white democrats, especially the anti-common core rural whites. You do not need a poll to determine how unpopular common core is up north. As the only democrat running for governor, John Bell Edwards can count on ninety plus percent of the thirty-two percent black voters. He only needs a small percentage of white voters and then he is assured of being in runoff. Supporting common core would definitely diminish his ability to add whites to his column. Anti-tax and anti-common core candidate John Bell Edwards is smart and articulate; his military and West Point background is a big plus; being a democrat and under financed is a hurdle. I predicted Jay Dardenne would win both statewide elections for Secretary of State and Lt. Governor. Never hesitated or said he was iffy – this is a totally different election. As of today, two of Jay’s opponents have enough voters to get into the runoff for governor. Keep the voters they have and they are in! Are Edwards or Vitter voters likely to switch to Jay Dardenne? John Bell Edwards voters are lower income, white democrats and blacks. What’s that saying – what do dogs chasing cars and republicans chasing black voters have in common – they both end up dead! Good luck trying to take Edwards white democrats away from him – he is anti-common core and Jay is pro common core. Being for common core and taking voters away from Vitter’s conservative base is not going to happen. Scott Angelle is against common core – he did not limit his ability to add voters to his column from either Edwards or Vitter. Scott Angelle needs a big vote from his base in Acadiana – anti common core Vitter could derail his solid-Acadiana strategy. Vitter and Edwards are well positioned right and left knowing road kill occurs in the middle – Scott Angelle’s strategy is designed to avoid being limited to moderate voters. Capture Acadiana and use this momentum to spread out beyond Acadiana. Viola – Edwin Edwards and Mike Foster winning campaigns. Always been bold on Jay Dardenne winning whatever he ran for, this time I am not!