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Wednesday, 03 October 2012 12:27

Chehardy on SMOR poll, budget, Jindal, Landrieu, Obama vs. Romney

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brokeBudget Cuts.  It will be the big battle of the next Congress, cutting the federal budget, reigning in spending, and reducing the national debt.  Democrats want a token tax increase, a feel good proposal to tax the “rich.”  Republicans want no tax increase, but do want big cuts in spending.  So what will the ramifications be?  Here in Louisiana we have an insight of just how popular these ideas might be.



A recent survey by Southern Media & Opinion Research (SMOR) shows just how Louisiana voters feel about budget cuts and whom to congratulate or blame for those cuts.  Massive budget cuts have been made in Louisiana that have hit hardest on higher education and health care.  Hospitals are closing or shrinking in size, medical teaching programs are being scaled back, and higher education is experiencing cuts that some say will affect the quality of teaching and the retention of good professors.  So how do voters feel about all of this?

I suppose voters like the idea of budget cuts.  Government is fat, bloated and wasteful.  But the poll clearly shows that state voters say enough is enough.  Nearly 68% of those surveyed say the state has cut enough.  Even those who want more cuts don’t want those cuts in health care or higher education.  Tax increases won’t be popular and eliminating tax exemptions won’t be popular either when the special interests invade Baton Rouge to protect their turf.  Louisiana is not immune from the tough decisions, and the governor and the legislature must take a leadership role in guiding the state through these difficult times.

The media and politicians like to look for someone to blame, and the poll put Governor Bobby Jindal front and center.  Gov. Jindal’s job approval is now rated at 51% favorable and 45% unfavorable.  The poll does not ask why the governor’s approval has dropped from the mid 60% approval a year ago, but there is no doubt that the publicity over the budget cuts has taken its toll.  The governor’s frequent out of town trips in support of Republican campaigns and causes has not helped either.  It has certainly galvanized Democrat voters in this presidential election year.  (Sixty-three percent of those voters do not approve of the Governor’s job according to SMOR.)  With the state in fiscal crisis, voters have the opinion that the governor isn’t on top of things.  Although voter opinions are divided, nearly 46% of voters in the survey say Louisiana’s governor should not get involved in national politics while 41% favor such activity and 13% don’t know or won’t say.

Don’t make the mistake of underestimating Bobby Jindal.  He has proven to be resilient and smart.  He has mastered the art of politics.  He is not afraid to make tough decisions and not afraid to defend them.   Some call this leadership.  The Democrat Party sees the state’s budget woes as an opportunity to return to power.  That may be overly optimistic at least at this point.  The future has yet to be written, and Bobby Jindal has not yet put pen to paper if he chooses to do so.

One thing is for sure.  The next legislative session should be a challenge.  The economy is not expected to pick up in any great way, and voters are not in the mood for more cuts.  More taxes won’t be popular either.  The governor and the legislature will have more bitter pills to swallow, and voters will be watching and looking over their shoulders.  All of this will impact the Senate race in 2014 if Gov. Jindal runs and the governorship and legislative races in 2015.

Sen. Mary Landrieu.  Sen. Landrieu is the highest rated statewide elected official measured in the SMOR poll.  Landrieu receives a 62% positive job rating with only a 28% negative rating.  This is great news for an incumbent facing re-election in 2014.  The only bad news is the state’s opposition to Obama Care, 52% oppose it, which Sen. Landrieu voted for.  That could be a big issue in the election and by the time of the election voters will know a lot more about Obama Care and how it impacts their lives.  If Gov. Jindal makes this race, his record will also be on the line.  According to the SMOR poll, Sen. Landrieu does better with Republicans than Gov. Jindal does with Democrats.  From a political junkie’s perspective, this would be a great race offering Louisiana two different views of how the state should be represented in Washington.  It would be a real choice for voters.

Obama and Romney.  The SMOR survey clearly shows that Mitt Romney, barring a major collapse by him, will carry the state on November 6th.   Louisiana is a red state and will remain so through this election cycle.  With 17% of Democrats undecided and nearly 30% of those who listed their political party as “Other” also undecided, most of these voters will most likely cast their ballots for Mitt Romney.  Why you ask?  If a Democrat is undecided about his vote for a Democrat incumbent president, then that voter is not likely to vote for the incumbent.  Since President Obama is universally known by voters and nearly 30% of “Other” voters (SMOR) won’t say they are voting for him, then it is likely they won’t vote for him either.  So while Mitt Romney’s campaign at least so far has been uninspiring, lackluster, and vague on the issues, he has the advantage in Louisiana of not being Barack Obama.  This will be sufficient for him to carry the state.  If only Romney could be doing this well elsewhere.

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Lawrence Chehardy

For thirty-four years Lawrence Chehardy served as Assessor of Jefferson Parish. He has been the leading authority on Louisiana’s property tax laws. In addition to his political commentary and public speaking engagements, Lawrence Chehardy is a founding member of the Chehardy, Sherman, Ellis, Murray, Recile, Griffith, Stakelum & Hayes Law Firm and serves as its managing partner.

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