In a video and in an interview Wednesday morning on WAFB-TV, Cassidy makes it clear that he will be running against President Obama as much or more than Landrieu. That strategy worked for Sen. David Vitter in 2010 against Charlie Melancon.
Like generals, politicians often fight the next war using the tactics from the last (in fact, Vitter’s able longtime communications director, Joel DiGrado, will be managing Cassidy’s campaign).
But what worked for Vitter in 2010 may not work so well for Cassidy in 2014.
For one thing, the 2014 Obama will not be the 2010 Obama.
In 2010, Obama was at the depths of his unpopularity in Louisiana, because of Obamacare in part, but mostly because of the poor economy. The president was still facing the prospect of re-election in 2012, a scary proposition for many Louisianians, and one that Vitter exploited with great skill.
This year, having been safely re-elected, Obama doesn’t scare Louisiana voters as he once did. Sure, he’s still not hugely popular here, but he is more popular than Gov. Bobby Jindal. That’s not nothing.
Cassidy’s issue, for now at least, appears to be Landrieu’s support for Obamacare.
That, too, may not be the potent issue that he and his fellow Republicans believe it to be. Obamacare may be unpopular among Louisianians, but in 2010 it was an abstraction. In 2014, it will be a complete reality and, I believe, not nearly as compelling an issue as Vitter once made it.
It’s one thing to persuade people that a bill — still not fully implemented in 2010 — will destroy the country. It’s quite another to face the reality that it didn’t actually destroy the country.
As more and more GOP governors take advantage of healthcare reform’s Medicaid expansion, for example, Cassidy may find the vilification of Obamacare even more difficult to sell. Of course, vilifying Obamacare will always sell with the hard right, but that doesn’t guarantee you 50 percent plus one.
In fact, if you want to know where a good portion of Louisiana voters’ dissatisfaction over health care resides, consult the Southern Media poll released yesterday. Turns out that the voters think that Jindal and his policies are a big part of the problem.
Sixty-four percent of those polled said they oppose Jindal’s plan to privatize the state’s public hospitals. Asked what progress had been made in Louisiana on health care in the past four years, voters overwhelming (75 percent) said “little” or “no progress.” And voters don’t want to see further cuts in health care. Seventy-seven percent said that this part of the budget had been cut enough.
If Cassidy wants this election to be a referendum on who has done the most damage to health care in Louisiana — Obama or Jindal — perhaps Landrieu will be delighted to be tossed into that briar patch.