Tuesday, 20 December 2011 14:29

Pinsonat Talks Louisiana Poll, Jindal, Vitter, Landrieu And Education

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Based upon a recent poll by Southern Media And Opinion Research (SMOR) does Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal have a mandate as he enters his second term of office as Chief Executive of Louisiana?  How politically influential are Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter and Democratic US Senator Mary Landrieu?   What is the political temperature for other state officials Jay Dardenne and John Kennedy?  

Bayoubuzz asked pollster Bernie Pinsonat of SMOR questions related to these issues and others after the release of the poll results.  Here are the questions and Pinsonat’s responses.

 What was the purpose of the winter 2011 poll that was just released?

Poll was commissioned to measure voter’s opinions of the status of public education in Louisiana. 

Governor Jindal had the highest favorable, however, based upon the poll, the 2/3 of those polled either do not believe the state’s conditions are getting better or conditions are about the same.  So, if the voters is that frustrated, how and why does Jindal have such high favorable?

Getting better was almost twice as high as getting worse. Most of the opinions or perceptions of voters on conditions in Louisiana (are we headed in the right direction or wrong direction) depends on your economic status. African Americans were negative on most these questions. The availability jobs are not there for them. African Americans have the highest unemployment numbers.  African Americans are much more dissatisfied with the education system than white voters. Their schools are the worst performing when it comes to progress. Republicans are very optimistic, they are happy with the availability of jobs and their outlook is positive.

One political columnist has written that Jindal has a mandate as a result of the election results.  Does he?

I read the column:  Mandate to do what? Governor Jindal does not have a mandate to gut teacher tenure laws –  legislators are much more concerned about facing  all of their local teachers when they have to campaign for reelection – when Governor Jindal will not be running for anything. Does Governor Jindal have a mandate to cut higher education because of budget woes? Does Governor Jindal have a mandate to drastically reduce the number of state employees? So far we have seen lots of positions reduced on paper– to date we have not seen hundreds of state employees given pink slips. Legislators are certainly not having a hard time getting hired by state government. Budget cuts are forcing a reductions in the number of state employees (attrition or positions)– except for former legislators. Jindal can achieve reforms – depends on what and how radical.

Does any of the poll results related to Vitter, Landrieu, Kennedy or Dardenne surprise you?

Senator Vitter’s popularity is trending down and this should not surprise anyone. President Barack Obama’s unpopularity was great for Senator Vitter reelection success. Sour puss Charlie Melancon was another “God send”  to help Senator Vitter’s reelection effort. Louisiana voters did not want to send another democrat to Washington help pass another health care reform bill or anything else sponsored by President Obama. Senator Mary Landrieu is the poster child for Louisiana’s aversion to sending another democrat to Washington to vote with Barrack Obama on just about anything! Once Senator Vitter was reelected – most voters were glad he won – but – they do not think he is a moral compass to follow. Louisiana voters want him opposing the president – but his endorsement in state government elections meant next to nothing for the candidates he endorsed, especially republicans who had democratic opponents. State Treasurer John Kennedy has been quite silentduring recent elections – he will gain in popularity as budget talks begin again in 2012. Lt Governor Jay Dardenne and Treasure John Kennedy both have low negatives and one of them will most likely replace Governor Jindal as governor. Senator Mary Landrieu is doing just OK in popularity – if Governor Jindal decides to challenge her – he beats her by eight to sixteen points. Her best and only shot is if her president Barack Obama is beaten-- does not get reelected.

According to the poll, the two top issues that the Governor and the legislature have to work on are education and jobs.  The third issue is economic development.  Governor Jindal has gone around the state promoting the conditions of the economy under his administration.  Is there a disconnect between what the voters are feeling and what the Governor is touting?

There is a definite disconnect, especially with African American voters who are the most unemployed and under educated.  All voters want education reform plus they wants more jobs created. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on T V ads; this caused education progress or the lack of to raise public attention awareness. The 2012 legislative session will feature lots of education legislation attempting to improve Louisiana’s low standing measured nationally.  However – education will be replaced very quickly by a lack of Jobs and the need for more jobs. Governor Jindal will remain popular or become not so popular based on his success or lack of in creating jobs.

The Governor is making education his number one priority.   The voters appear to be supporting his recommendations for change.  What are Jindal and the legislature’s greatest challenges in creating long-standing positive changes in public education?  This is not the first time that our politicians are pushing education reform.  What do you believe the voters are requesting from the Governor and from the legislature so that ten years from now, the public will be satisfied with the reforms made during this upcoming administration?

I feel like Bill Murray in the movie Ground Hog day! Since 1977 this will be my fourth time either being involved in or watching (major) education reform legislative sessions. Whether it is teacher accountability, teacher testing or teacher evaluation – we have done this over and over and again and again.  Every eight years or so we redo what we did the last time we did it.   Since 1967 we have passed over one hundred major pieces of legislation- each time claiming this is it! Literally nothing has made much of a difference!  I guess you can say – well, we did not get any worse. Not really, you cannot say that either, because we were near the bottom then and still there as of today.

Voters cannot request anything from Governor Jindal and the legislature ten years from now! When those elected officials are gone from office – they are not accountable! Kelly Nix was the first elected official (then Louisiana Superintendent of Education) who crafted the absolute toughest reform education legislation at that time (1977) in the US. Then Governor Roemer passes similar legislation while he was governor. Governor Mike Foster also passed teacher accountability legislation when he was governor. Kathleen Blanco as governor also passed major reform legislation aimed at improving education. Maybe someone should ask this question – what will be different this time. Jackie Ducote (Par and LABI) referred to the first ten years of education reform as the road to nowhere!  That should be updated: thirty-four years of roads to nowhere!  

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