The Advocate reports that a recent poll puts Senator Vitter in the lead at 35%, John Bel Edwards at 33%, Jay Dardenne at 15%, and Scott Angelle at 7%. The remaining voters polled were undecided. These numbers clearly indicate two things. Senator Vitter is in a commanding lead over his two republican opponents and that 57% of voters like one of the republican candidates while only 33% like the democrat. This is why it is very likely that Louisiana’s next governor will be republican or maybe not.
No analysis of this race would be complete without mentioning the one democrat who could turn the race upside down. That candidate would be New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. The mayor’s chances were certainly not helped by the defeat of his sister, Mary Landrieu, in last year’s senate race. But all elections are different, and a race for governor is certainly not the same as a race for the U.S. Senate. Mitch Landrieu’s entry into the race would certainly change the strategies of the other candidates dramatically and almost insure a Landrieu - Vitter runoff.
If there is one hope for a known democrat to win the race it is the poor performance of Louisiana’s current republican governor, Bobby Jindal, who has taken to the road in his quest for the White House. That same survey measuring the candidates for governor gives Gov. Jindal a 63 percent disapproval rating and a 27 percent approval rating. These are horrible numbers for any elected official. When asked if the state is headed in the right direction only 31 percent of respondents agreed while 69 percent said the state was headed in the wrong direction. This too is equally devastating for a sitting governor or any elected official. Voters are unhappy with the way the state is being run, and they blame the governor.
In the upcoming election it is very likely that voters will select a candidate whom they believe will lead Louisiana out of her fiscal problems and not further into a deeper financial black hole. Is it possible that voters could choose a democrat to send a strong message to change course, or will voters stick with their conservative principles and elect a conservative republican? Is it possible that voters will look at the republican candidates and pick one that they perceive to be the more middle of the road candidate with conservative leanings? This is what the campaign will be about. It will be about Louisiana’s future and the solutions that each of the candidates offers.
Voters must insist on specifics, will it be more budget cuts, higher taxes and fees, or a combination of these, while the candidates will be comfortable with generic answers that alienate as few voters as possible. If the candidates can get away with that, Louisiana will be the loser, and voters may not be getting what they thought they were buying into.
(Photo: Lawrence Chehardy)