Government & Politics
 

Poll: Vitter, Kennedy, Dardenne more popular than Mary Landrieu and Jindal

State Treasurer John Kennedy, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Sen. David Vitter are the most popular elected officials in Louisiana, an independent poll released Thursday shows.

Lagging are Sen. Mary Landrieu, Gov. Bobby Jindal and President Barack Obama. Each one got a job approval rating of less than 50 percent from voters, according to Southern Media & Opinion Research, a Baton Rouge-based firm.

Jindal’s rating continues “to languish,” according to the polling firm. The percentage of voters who said he’s doing an “excellent” or “good” job was only 42 percent, while 55 percent said he’s doing “not so good” or “poor.”

The 42 percent figure is only a slight gain from his 38 percent job approval rating in March.

Forty-two percent “is not a great number for an incumbent governor who wants to run for president,” said Kirby Goidel, a Louisiana State University professor who conducts the annual Louisiana Survey.

Since March, Jindal has endured a tough legislative session, being forced to abandon his chief priority, a plan to eliminate income taxes and offset that revenue with higher sales taxes. He’s been criticized for traveling frequently outside of Louisiana.

The governor has sought to connect with voters by visiting all parts of the state since June, in what his staff calls a “64-parish tour.” He has visited 46 parishes so far.

The governor’s job approval rating was only 35.1 percent in the northeast Louisiana’s 5th congressional district, where his favored candidate, state Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, got trounced in Saturday’s special election – in part because of his close ties to Jindal, analysts said.

Southern Media suggested Jindal could regain his popularity. “If Governor Jindal has enough dollars to begin reinvesting in health care and higher education, his job performance ratings could return to the fifties,” the company’s analysis said.

Kennedy, Dardenne and Vitter, all Republicans, are all potential candidates to seek Jindal’s job during the 2015 gubernatorial campaign. Here’s how they fared:

  • Kennedy: 62 percent job approval, 15.7 percent job disapproval

  • Dardenne: 60.8 percent approval, 18.2 percent disapproval

  • Vitter: 58.3 percent approval, 35.2 percent disapproval

The poll also shows that Vitter got the most support in a hypothetical primary of 2015 gubernatorial candidates, with 30 percent. Kennedy and Dardenne were essentially tied: 19 and 18 percent, respectively. State Rep. John Bel Edwards from Amite was the top Democrat, with 8 percent.

Dardenne has said he is planning to run for governor; Kennedy has expressed some interest. Vitter has yet to disclose whether he would give up his Senate seat in Washington, D.C. for the governor’s mansion in Baton Rouge.

Sen. Landrieu isn’t much more popular than Jindal after her job approval rating dropped from 56 percent in March to 46 percent in November. Landrieu appears to have fallen because of her strong support for the Affordable Care Act. The rollout of Healthcare.gov, the federal health insurance exchange, has been plagued with problems.

Only 33.6 percent of voters approved of Obamacare while 59 percent opposed it. Similarly, only 32.3 percent of voters said they would be more likely to support Landrieu knowing that she supported the law, while 53.8 percent said they would be less likely to do so.

The numbers indicate Landrieu, a Democrat, is vulnerable in next year’s Senate election, said Pearson Cross, a political science professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. “It looks like Obamacare is turning into an anchor and dragging Mary Landrieu down.”

The leading Republican candidate is U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy from Baton Rouge, while newcomer Rob Maness trails.

Landrieu led a hypothetical race among the three, but she got less support than the two Republican candidates combined:

  • Landrieu: 41 percent

  • Cassidy: 33.8 percent

  • Maness: 9.8 percent

  • Undecided: 15.5 percent

The poll also showed that 50 percent of the state’s voters support a lawsuit filed by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East against 97 oil and gas companies for contributing to coastal erosion. Statewide, 36 percent oppose it.

The lawsuit enjoys its strongest support in metro New Orleans, at 64 percent.

The survey polled 600 voters throughout Louisiana Nov. 6-12 and has a 4 percent margin of error. This means each poll number has a 95 percent probability of being four points higher or four points lower.

In recent years, Baton Rouge businessman Lane Grigsby — a frequent contributor to candidates and causes — paid for the poll. This time, however, “private subscribers” financed it, Southern Media said. The firm has been conducting a similar poll since the 1980s.

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