Sabludowsky: Today, in this Google Hangout interview, we have Jim Brown.
Brown: We have some interesting things to talk about today.
Sabludowsky: The topic we're going to talk about is a new poll about Louisiana politics. It was funded by a businessman in Baton Rouge with a firm called Magellan. They did something different this year; Bernie Pinsonat used to be the pollster. We'll hear later on this week why he was not the pollster for this political poll. Jim, why don't you chime in at this time?
Brown: Lane Grigsby has a large construction company in Baton Rouge. He has been highly successful. He has made it his mission to be involved in political races; he's been very active in mayor’s race in Baton Rouge, a number of different issues here. He has decided to venture statewide. He does a poll fairly regularly and funds it himself. He's a pretty decent guy who means well. I don't know why he picked this Magellan group. He normally uses a group called Southern Media. You referred to Bernie Pinsonat, an active political operative in Baton Rouge who runs his own polling firm. Southern Media is a good firm. I know that Magellan has a national reputation. They strike me as being a little on the conservative side as they put their numbers together. I don't think they slant the poll in favor of who they want, but we're going to talk about some of the loaded questions today. However, the Magellan poll does give us a pretty good snapshot of how the US Senate race is shaping up in Louisiana.
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Sabludowsky: I've done some research on this firm. I think that the technology that they're using is quite impressive. They do a lot of polling around the nation. But everything I have seen has been pro-Republican. They had a slogan on their website that they took off. I'm paraphrasing: their goal is to help Republicans win. They took it off about two years ago, maybe three. They used to work for, and maybe still do, the Republican National Committee. Also, they worked for the same organization that they Koch brothers fund - Americans for Prosperity. I would consider this to be a very Republican and conservative poll. That's not to say that the numbers are wrong. Some of these numbers are very consistent with what I have seen in other polls. But some of the questions they asked, I have some questions about. They also worked for David Vitter's organization to try to help win back the legislature of Louisiana. All of this should be factored in. It doesn't mean that the numbers are slanted; however, I do have questions about the questions that were asked.
Brown: Let's jump in to the numbers. First, the US Senate race and Mary Landrieu. What came out for me in the poll is that her main opponent, Congressman Bill Cassidy, who announced fourteen months ago, has not made a lot of traction in terms of name recognition. He has not been down throughout the state as much I would expect. I'm surprised by that. He's got a way to go. The numbers, if they are correct, tell me that the election is a referendum on Mary Landrieu. You're going to vote for her or against her. Cassidy is a nondescript fellow. He's a low-key Congressman. He's a popular doctor; his wife is a doctor, too. They are good, decent folks, but there's nothing unique or dynamic about Cassidy. He's not a Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, or Hillary Clinton. He has not really defined himself. The poll shows that if the numbers are bad or good for Landrieu, it's a referendum on her. By and large, people vote for or against her.
Sabludowsky: I think Mary Landrieu got 39%. Her favorables were 41%. In terms of Cassidy, roughly 35% of the people who were polled had never heard of him. He's not the only candidate in this race. You also have a Tea Party favorite, Rob Maness. You also have Hollis. He is leading Maness.
Brown: You're right about the numbers. Let's break them down. If the election was today, Sen. Landrieu would get 39.3% of the votes. Bill Cassidy would get 26.3%. Rob Maness, the quite conservative Tea Party candidate would get 2.6%. Sen. Paul Hollis would get 3.4%, so he's a little ahead of Maness. 28.4% were undecided. So Landrieu is far from gaining any kind of victory over just one major candidate. You pointed out that her favorables are 41%. Her unfavorables are 52.2%. So the referendum on her shows that she has a real uphill fight ahead of her. Of course, there's going to be a massive amount of money spent on showing that she's okay, but the Democrats are going to spend a lot more money on beating up and defining Cassidy. The good news for the Democrats is that Cassidy hasn't defined himself really well. If you take five to seven million dollars, you can define him in a very negative way. Landrieu's numbers do not look good; Cassidy's numbers look okay, but he's just an unknown. What was interesting is that the poll didn't poll just Landrieu and Cassidy one on one. Unless Bobby Jindal or someone like him gets in the race, Cassidy and Landrieu are most likely going to be in the runoff. If you got rid of Maness and Hollis in the poll, their votes would probably go to Cassidy. I think it would have been a very even race with a huge group of undecided. I mentioned that Cassidy has not been around in the state to a great extent. I'm not seeing Mary Landrieu traveling the state, either. She's speaking to the Press Club in Baton Rouge this Monday. But as far as retail politics - I was in politics for 28 years as a Senator, Secretary of State, and Insurance Commissioner, and I grew up in the era of retail politics. When you're the incumbent in a race like this, letting people know you is very important. I haven't seen Mary Landrieu coming down to Alexandria and smaller areas. She might to to Baton Rouge, but she doesn't go to New Roads and Plaquemines, for example. I've seen her come for high profile or money events, but she usually stays in Washington. That is a huge mistake. When you're a Senator, you gather a large crowd. If you got a little political persuasion - she must have this since she's been in office for many years - you can win the crowd. She could explain her vote on Obamacare, but she hasn't done so. She's trying to do it through the media instead. When all is said and done, that could be the deciding factor. She's not enough hands-on. Cassidy isn't either, but he doesn't really have to be. He's the anti-Landrieu. I think his campaign is just going to pound Landrieu and let out-of-state money come in to do the same.