Wednesday, 11 August 2010 14:29

Pinsonat On Louisiana Politics, Poll, Jindal, Vitter, Melancon, Lt. Governor’s Race and Obama

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steve_sabludowsky01Now that the Louisiana legislative session is over and the BP oil spill has been capped for weeks, what is Louisiana's political climate?  Bernie Pinsonat of Southern Media & Opinion Research  released a poll paid for a group of Louisiana businessmen regarding voter's opinions about  upcoming the US Senate, the Lt. Governor's election and Governor Jindal.  

So that Bayoubuzz readers could better understand the poll numbers, I sent an email to Pinsonat asking him specific questions  that I felt would help us understand his poll results as it relates to specific Louisiana candidates in the upcoming elections  and other politicians.  


Also, since there have been conflicting polls in the US Senate race and because the Louisiana Democratic Party released a statement moments after I received the poll from SMOR claiming Pinsonat to be a "republican pollster" and questioning his bias and possibly his integrity, I wanted to get his analysis of both the poll numbers and the Democratic Party's charges.

Here are my questions I emailed to Pinsonat and his responses:       

In general, what does your new poll tell you about the Louisiana electorate at this time?

President Barack Obama remains very unpopular throughout Louisiana. The President is so unpopular (sixty one percent negative job rating) Vitter campaigns against both President Obama and Congressman Melancon.  

Overall, is there any difference in the poll since the one your did in the spring and if so, what is the difference?
Not a lot – both Vitter and Melancon’s polling number in the spring 2010 remain within the margin of error compared to this poll conducted in August 2010.  

Your poll shows that Sen. Vitter is ahead of Congressman Melancon at this time.  Where are the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses?

Great Question: David Vitter is extremely strong with registered republicans. I doubt Jindal could beat David Vitter in a republican primary. Jindal could beat Vitter – but it would not be a runaway. I know this because I have already polled this scenario with various republicans challenging Vitter. At this point in time Vitter is doing well with white democrats and independents because of Barrack Obama. Without Barack Obama pushing white democrats into Vitter’s column – Vitter may not be this far ahead.
Charlie Melancon is good candidate since he managed to get elected to the US Congress – not an easy feat!   Charlie Melancon problem is this: he could not have picked a worse time to run for the US Senate. He has an anchor around his neck!  President Obama is dragging Congressman Melancon poll numbers down. It is nearly impossible to gain ground on Vitter with so many Louisiana voters turned off by democrats in DC. 

What does the Lt. Governor’s poll tell you at this time?  Were there any surprises?

I am impressed by Sammy Kershaw polling this well so early. I guess I should not be surprised because Kershaw is an entertainer and is well known throughout Louisiana.   Not unexpected is Jay Dardenne running first in this survey with 25 percent or so. Jay Dardenne is the favorite and I find it hard to imagine a scenario in which Dardenne loses. The other candidates have to spend lots on money to gain enough voter recognition to challenge either Dardenne or Kershaw. This is doable but will cost any of the other candidates at least 600 hundred thousand and that is just the upfront seed money! I am sure Jay’s opponents are burning the midnight oil devising a plan that denies Jay the Office of Lieutenant Governor that most think Jay should win.

Does the poll indicate that Jindal is getting all the credit and not any of the blame for this economic and budgetary conditions we are encountering?  Is there any indication as to what we might see next year when the budget is expected to go into the “falling off the cliff” years?

Governor Jindal’s positives are very high and are almost as high as they ever were.  Yet, the state’s economic situation and budget are in precarious conditions with the budget being slashed now and expected to be slashed by hundreds of millions in the near future and quite a number of state services to be cut.  

Gee that is a tough question: Jindal is very popular – he took full advantage of the oil spill disaster. He actually thrived on it – the amount of state and national TV exposure was worth millions to him. Can you imagine the cost of purchasing that much national exposure? High poll numbers come and go for all Louisiana governors. It is not a herculean feat to be a popular governor post Edwin Edwards. Roemer, Foster, Blanco and now Jindal were all popular. Pollsters and political pundits in Louisiana all know this – if you are not stealing or under indictment, a governor should get reelected. The exception to this was of course poor Kathleen Blanco – a storm named Katrina demolished New Orleans and her chances for reelection. There continues to be speculation that Jindal will suffer a serious loss of popularity next year as he deals with horrific budgets cuts in 2011. Of course I heard that same speculation before the legislative session began this year. Nothing happened to Bobby Jindal – he avoided the misery at the capitol and instead spent all of his time on the gulf coast.  I am very cautious about predicting a governor’s demise based on what might happen. I do know this – no democrat can defeat Bobby Jindal and in fact there is no one on the scene (democrat or republican) now or even on the horizon who can defeat Bobby Jindal. Jindal is now approaching his fourth year as our governor and is also amassing lots of critics in and out of government. This is not uncommon! His critics will become more vocal as budget woes mount and our economy struggles to overcome the drilling ban consequences. Fortunately for Bobby Jindal; political insider and state capitol critics have virtually zero impact on voters. Most voters like Jindal and the majority want him to succeed.  So if conditions are truly as bad as some are predicting and Louisiana’s economy is also in the tank – sure Bobby Jindal will suffer a drop in popularity. But who is going to beat him?  

Since there is an upcoming republican primary at the end of this month in which Sen. Vitter will be facing republican candidates, and since you also polled him against Rep. Melancon, how was your poll performed to reflect two distinct and different elections?

We added 120 repubs to our poll to be able to have a separate poll with in a poll – we conducted a republican voters’ primary election survey to poll Vitter versus Traylor.  Then we went back and weighted the rest of the poll to ignore the additional 120 republicans by weighting the survey to reflect the statistical model of Louisiana having only so many republican. In effect we had poll match the political party numbers in exact accordance with what the voter rolls reflect. Actually a statistics computer program does the calculations – it is pretty neat.

The Louisiana Democratic Party is now claiming you are a “republican pollster”.  They have sent out a press release to that affect.  Are you?  They also claim that this last poll was paid for the national republican senatorial committee.  Did they?  Who paid for the poll?

The Democratic Party is aware I poll for lots of democrats. For instance SMOR had US Senator John Breaux as a client. What about Buddy Leach – I have copies of lots of check paid to Southern Media from Buddy Leach – who is a friend and client! The Democratic Party knows I managed John Alario campaign and conducted his polls. I did more for John Alario than the Louisiana Democratic Party  – in fact they did nothing to help us and John Alario was the number one target to defeat by the Republican Party. Let me repeat that – I was Alario’s campaign manager and we never got call one from the Democratic Party – none! What about SMOR polling for Congressman Cleo fields – is he a republican – NO! Every poll SMOR conducted during Senator Mary Landrieu’s reelection predicted her winning. Gee I guess the Democratic Party missed the attack on me by the Republican Party and their candidate John Kennedy. Amazing but they claimed I was a democratic pollster. What about democrat PSC member Louis Lambert – I polled for Louis. What about both Francis and David Heitmeir who are democrats. State Senator Reggie Dupree democrat and all three Senators Chabert – all democrats - SMOR has conducted hundreds of polls for democrats. Buster, my partner and I have been doing these polls for a long time and we have lots of friends and clients both democrat and republican.

I have never spoken to anyone from the republican senatorial campaign committee ever!  I conducted this survey for private clients who conducts these polls every election. They are from across the state and belong to both parties. SMOR was allowed to design a simple questionnaire which was straight forward. We just ask voters to vote for the candidates as they will appear on the ballot in the upcoming elections.  All of the questions were released and in the order in which they were asked. How could I possibly poll for republicans and release a survey showing Roger Villere (chairman of the Republican Party) with virtually no support!

by Stephen Sabludowsky, J.D.
Publisher of








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