Tuesday, 05 March 2013 20:03

Q and A with Pinsonat: Jindal, Landrieu, Vitter, legislature, elections

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pinsonat2With the Louisiana legislature approaching, the U.S. Senate election and the Louisiana Governor's race beginning to develop a shape, Bayoubuzz posed questions to Bernie Pinsonat, pollster for Southern Media and Opinion Research (SMOR).  



The questions refer to these contentious political affairs, the strengths and weaknesses of Governor Bobby Jindal, David Vitter, Mary Landrieu and other major elected officials who might be the face of the state in the upcoming years. 

Since there's always time for political talk, here's the latest edition of "Bernie Burns"...

There are some recent polls that claim that Governor Bobby Jindal is dropping in the polls with one poll finding his favorable at 37%. Other polls including one you did last fall somewhat corroborate this claim. Assuming the drop, here are some questions I have for you:
Do you agree or disagree with the general findings of the recent polls.  Why?

I do not think you or I need a public opinion survey to determine Governor Jindal is not as popular as he was two or three years ago. Budget cuts, travels outside Louisiana, various reform initiatives which alienated teachers and state workers have caused a significant drop in in Governor Jindal’s job performance ratings. When any governor receives a seventy percent poor job performance rating from all teachers and government employee households in Louisiana; their popularity takes a bit hit! Who are the biggest employers in ninety percent of all rural parishes in Louisiana? School boards, local and state government employees – add to that all the employees at private and government hospitals. To say Governor Jindal has alienated himself from these groups is the ultimate understatement! It is way past job performance. They do not like him. Governor Jindal at the time of this survey was receiving a fifty percent negative job performance from all white democrats in Louisiana.

If Governor Jindal has excess revenue to spend and does not have to cut the budget any further his popularity will improve– but his days of being in high sixties and even low seventies are probably gone forever.  

What has an incredibly popular elected official Bobby Jindal done wrong to find himself with numbers that indicate that half of the population of the state is not satisfied with his performance?
Running for president and being the governor of Louisiana is a tricky proposition at best. Republican love to tout their reforms of state government to the rest of the nation. Cutting the budget and not raising taxes seems to be their most popular topic. Here in Louisiana we have a high percentage of poor people and lots of local and state employees and their families. Governor Jindal points to his reforms of teacher tenure and a twenty five percent reduction in Louisiana’s budget. Great stuff for republican audiences, bad for his popularity back here in Louisiana. Republicans are telling us pollsters they like the reform efforts of Governor Jindal. Unfortunately for Governor Jindal they only represent about 27 percent of all voters in Louisiana. In comparison black voters in Louisiana are approaching 32 percent. Independent voters in Louisiana have similar numbers to republicans, but they represent a small number in any likely voter survey – they just do not vote.
Most black voters, teachers, state employees and low income voters now rate Governor Jindal job performance as poor. At the national level republicans are losing elections because the same demographics groups Governor Jindal has alienated here are the very same groups actively campaigning for and electing democrats.

Mary Landrieu has made a substantial comeback over the past two years since her own poll plunge after the Obama care debate.  She is now the most popular statewide elected official.  How did that happen and if she can make a substantial comeback. Can’t Jindal? 
Senator Mary Landrieu popularity climbed to seventy percent after her reelection in 2008. Shortly after her reelection Senator Landrieu voted for the stimulus package legislation proposed by President Obama. Her popularity continued its downward spiral as she became one of President Barack Obama most loyal supporters. By the spring of 2009, after supporting President on his health care reform legislation, Senator Landrieu was very unpopular with about seventy percent of all white voters in Louisiana. Her popularity improved as time passed and voters forgot about her vote for Obama Care. Will Senator Landrieu be reelected is now one of the most debated topics in Louisiana and this will continue until Election Day 2014. What should be troubling to Senator Landrieu and Louisiana Democratic Officials is the loss of political powers as whites leave the Democratic Party in huge numbers. If you are in the business of polling – it is hard not to notice the falling number of white democrats in Louisiana. As of today, white democrats make up only twenty two percent of all registered voters in Louisiana. Since the election of Barack Obama, only about eighteen percent of new white registrants have registered as democrats. As President Obama continues to push issues that are unpopular here in Louisiana (same sex marriage; restriction of gun rights and new taxes on oil and gas production) white democratic registration could drop below twenty percent.  Without an extremely high turnout of black voters, winning statewide for any democrat will be next to impossible. As one of President Obama’s most out spoken supporters, Senator Landrieu faces a difficult reelection. Can Governor Jindal improve his popularity as Landrieu did? Landrieu’s popularity improved because voters have short memories and over time they forget why they were mad at her. Governor Jindal can certainly improve his popularity, but unlike Senator Landrieu, Governor Jindal is in the news everyday pushing his national agenda that is unpopular with most democrats. Governor Jindal is not unpopular; he is certainly not as popular as he was a few years ago.  

As of now, it appears David Vitter might run for governor, and, if so, how do you see the race shaping up?  There is one declared democrat candidate in democrat Rep. John Bel Edwards.  Others are looking.  Do you think, other than Mary Landrieu, could a democrat beat a republican in a statewide election, assuming the election were held today?  How about in 2015 gubernatorial election? 
Most of us in the business of electing people to political office believe Senator Vitter has to be considered one of the stronger potential candidates for governor in 2015. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne is another strong candidate as is Treasurer John Kennedy. Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain is sizing up his chances. Current Mayor of New Orleans Mitch Landrieu is probably the only democrat who would be considered a strong candidate that could beat the republicans. Representative John Bell Edwards with two thirds of all black voters voting for him would probably get into the runoff with a republican. He is not as strong a candidate for democrats as Mitch Landrieu.  If Mitch does run for governor, he is almost a lock mortal cinch to face a republican in runoff. The more republicans who run for governor, the better his chances are to make the runoff. The win by newly elected Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle changes the playing field for republicans. Scott is the only republican candidate who has the ability to get eighty plus percent of all voters in and near his or her base. Scott Angelle rolls up numbers in Acadiana like Edwin Edwards did in his hay day. He is very likeable and his speechmaking is second to none. History tells us voters from Thibodaux to Lake Charles and below Hwy 190 vote for a Cajun who is one of them. Scott Angelle acts like and speaks like one of them. Senator David Vitter and Lt Governor Jay Dardenne are certainly strong statewide candidates – but they have would have a lot less voters accessible to them if Commissioner Angelle decides to run for governor!    

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