By Robert Mann
There probably was a time when Gov. Bobby Jindal and his aides believed they could ignore Louisiana as Jindal ramped up his 2016 presidential campaign. I can hear his advisors telling him, “As long as you’re feeding them red meat in Iowa and New Hampshire, no one will care about what you did in Louisiana.”
Well, the consequences of Jindal’s inattention to his home state crashed headlong into his presidential hopes on Tuesday, when Public Policy Polling (PPP) released a wide-ranging survey of 1,141 likely voters, conducted Sept. 25-28.
The survey doesn’t test how Jindal might do in the presidential primaries outside Louisiana. But it does suggest, if not prove, that as a party nominee Jindal would have difficulty carrying his own state against Hillary Clinton. Perhaps that’s because Jindal’s job approval rating is a dismal 34 percent. He’d lose to Edwin Edwards in a hypothetical governor’s race and a large majority say they wish he wouldn’t run for president. And, if he should he become the GOP vice presidential nominee , a strong plurality said Jindal’s presence on the ticket would make them less likely to support the Republican ticket.
In all, it’s a disastrous poll for Jindal.
Fifty-five percent of voters disapprove of Jindal’s job performance. Only 34 percent approve the job he’s doing. And those aren’t just liberal Democrats. Jindal’s performance gets poor ratings from 40 percent of those who describe themselves at “somewhat conservative” and 38 percent of those who consider themselves “very conservative.”
In the survey, potential GOP presidential hopefuls like senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul and former governors Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush each outpolled Hillary Clinton in Louisiana in a hypothetical 2016 matchup. Only Jindal and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie finished behind Clinton.
For example, Bush outpolled Clinton 49-41, while Huckabee outpaced her 50-43. Matched with Jindal, however, Clinton finished a point ahead, 46-45.
Louisiana’s voters are overwhelmingly opposed to a Jindal presidential campaign. Only 20 percent of those surveyed like the idea. Sixty-eight percent say he should not run.
If Jindal were the vice presidential nominee, only 28 percent of Louisiana voters surveyed said that would make them more likely to vote for the Republican candidate. Forty-two percent said it would make them less likely to vote Republican. In other words, Jindal might not be able to accomplish the first duty of a vice presidential nominee — carry his or her own state.
In a matchup with Edwin Edwards — who recently finished an eight-year prison sentence on federal racketeering charges — Jindal comes up short. Asked whom they would rather have as governor, Jindal or Edwards, voters chose a felon by a 47 percent to 43 percent margin.
Why is Jindal so unpopular? Perhaps it has something to do with his constant out-of-state travel and his willingness to ignore the needs of his constituents. The PPP survey suggests it might also be because Jindal is out of step with his constituents’ needs.
While Jindal has refused to expand Medicaid under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, his constituents have other ideas. By a 56 percent to 31 percent margin, those Louisiana voters surveyed want to see Medicaid expanded to cover the working poor. Voters also support raising the minimum wage by a 55 percent to 37 percent margin.
Jindal is clearly close to being a spent force in Louisiana politics. Too late, he has discovered that the best way to get elected president is to become an effective, responsive public official. His attacks on President Obama, Common Core and Obamacare might generate applause, but earns him little else in the way of tangible support.
In a recent CNN poll of New Hampshire voters, Jindal finished at 3 percent, tied with former Sen. Rick Santorum and one point behind “no one.” That prompted Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert to remark on Tuesday night’s show, “I say he can use it to his advantage. ‘Jindal 2016: No one is more popular.'”
Stuck in the cellar in almost every poll of potential candidates, Jindal is learning that the policies and personality traits that have turned off his constituents have the same deleterious effect on voters in New Hampshire and Iowa.
Another way to put it: the more you know about Bobby Jindal, the less you like him.