On Tuesday, October 2, 2012, pollster Bernie Pinsonat of the group Southern Media and Opinions announced the results of the scientific poll he and his organization had conduced in Louisiana. As Clancy DuBos of The Gambit points out, the poll, somewhat ironically, was commissioned and paid for by Baton Rouge conservative Lane Grigsby, a man who has, throughout the years, invested thousands of dollars to support a variety of “down-ticket” candidates, most notably a roster of candidates that Governor Jindal had endorsed for the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Ordinarily, fairly or not, critics would have been prepared to downplay the poll’s results as client-driven and biased, but this time, Pinsonat’s poll revealed something extraordinary, perhaps even embarrassing for the conservatives that have bankrolled and supported Mr. Pinsonat’s operation.
First and most importantly, Governor Jindal’s most recent approval rating is now only 51%, a slight majority (though within the margin of error), representing one of the largest and most significant plummets in Louisiana history. In less than a year, Jindal’s popularity dropped by a staggering 13 points, and before that, his approval had been even higher, hovering around the low-70s.
I called this post “Cashing Out,” because I believe Jindal’s meteorically-sinking polling numbers are the direct result of his decision to spend the bulk of the political capital he had accumulated on poorly-managed, poorly-executed, widely unpopular, and ideologically-driven policies– not because he believed these policies would substantively address any problems in Louisiana, but, instead, because he had hoped that by championing the provocative and expansive national model legislation crafted by conservative think tanks on education, health care, and taxes, he could better brandish his own Republican bonafides and more convincingly make his own case for a vice presidential nomination.
Louisiana wised up. Louisiana caught on. Some of us may remember that when Jindal ran for Governor in 2007, he repeatedly argued that Louisiana was a rich state, even though we’re one of the poorest in the country. After five years, it should be abundantly clear: Bobby Jindal has never understood Louisiana. He’s lived in the rarefied air of the wealthy and landed elite since he was a teenager, a parallel universe, one where it’s possible to suggest that Louisiana is “rich” merely because all of your friends from Louisiana are rich.
While Governor Jindal travels across the country touting his non-existent record on education reform and his daring plans for school vouchers, the polling indicates that only 26% of Louisianans actually support his education agenda, and most tellingly, 54% of Louisianans (the majority and outside of the margin of error) are opposed to his controversial school voucher program, the centerpiece of his second-term as Governor and, arguably, the most important legislation of his career.
Again, Jindal may still be approved by the narrowest of margins, but if you dig a little deeper, you find that his actual plans are overwhelmingly opposed: A stunning 68% of Louisianans oppose additional cuts to the state’s operating budget. 79% of Louisianans believe that additional cuts to the charity hospital system will severely hurt quality of care. And, in perhaps the most damning indictment against Jindal’s record, 69% of Louisianas believe the State Legislature should be more independent from the Governor.
Today, the most popular statewide elected official in Louisiana is United States Senator Mary Landrieu, the only Democrat in Louisiana who currently holds statewide office; Landrieu is approved by 62% of voters, 11% more than support Governor Jindal.
But that’s an entirely different story.