Poll shows what’s on politician’s minds

Special to the Herald-Guide

December 16, 2011 at 9:09 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

By John Maginnis
The governor’s election did not offer much of a guidepost to the future, mainly because Gov. Bobby Jindal, barely challenged, said little about what he wants to do in his second term.

Not a problem. His is one of two statewide surveys released last week that conclude that voters think the future looks bright, especially for those who paid for the polls.

A survey by Jindal’s consultant firm OnMessage, paid for by Friends of Bobby Jindal, states that voters trust him the most with Louisiana’s future and they broadly support his approach to reforming K-12 education, before he announces his plan.

A Market Research Institute poll, commissioned by businessman and former gubernatorial candidate John Georges, peers ahead to the next governor’s race to suggest that--guess who?--Georges can win it.

Jindal’s approval rating in his own poll, taken Nov. 8-10, is a stratospheric 71 percent. Anything less would give him reason to complain after spending $10 million on his campaign, compared to practically nothing by his unknown challengers.

A buoyant mood of voters is reflected in 56 percent believing that the state is moving in the right direction and even 49 percent having a positive view of the state Legislature, neither of which is the norm for polls in most other states.

As for what voters want, the Jindal poll shows that respondents, by a 2-to-1 margin, believe the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education should "pursue bold reforms that improve all our schools," as opposed to the view that BESE members should "work with our teachers and focus just on the failing schools." This point is intended to be made on the Legislature.

So much for policy, let’s look to raw politics. Reading a John Georges poll can be as entertaining as Friday lunch at his most famous asset, Galatoire’s, and nearly as intoxicating.

In the breathlessly awaited first poll on the 2015 governor’s race, the Georges survey poses a contest in which he is the lone Democrat running in the primary against three Republicans: Sen. David Vitter, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Treasurer John Kennedy. In this fantasy field, his poll shows he would lead the splintered Republicans in the primary and run even with Vitter in a trial heat runoff.

Back on Earth, one can only assume that an open seat election for governor, unlike this year, would attract a number of known Democrats to compete with Georges. If this survey says anything, however, it’s that Georges, 51, with ambition and money to burn, means to have an impact on future governor’s races.

Not just the next one. His poll asks voters to look ahead eight years to 2019, a year when the governor’s consultant Timmy Teepell has suggested that Jindal, after sitting out four years, might run for a third term. Not so fast, cautions the Georges poll, which shows respondents, by a 57-32 percent margin, would prefer that Jindal not seek a third term and "let someone new be governor."

Both polls take measured shots at Sen. Vitter, likely because Jindal doesn’t like him, while to Georges he is merely in the way.

The Georges poll shows that 35 percent of voters approve of the job the junior senator is doing compared to 35 percent who disapprove. Even the Jindal poll views Vitter more charitably, with 52 percent having a "very" or "somewhat" favorable opinion of him to 32 percent with a very or somewhat unfavorable opinion.

The Jindal poll, though, gets in its own licks. To the question "who do you most trust to deal with (future) challenges," 50 percent say Jindal, while Vitter is back in the pack at 5 percent.

Jindal’s survey even manages to say something nice about Sen. Mary Landrieu, at Vitter’s expense of course. She ranked second on the "who do you trust" question, at 23 percent. In an imaginary election between the two senators, Landrieu leads, 44-42 percent.

Vitter, no doubt, is rolling his eyes at the polling parlor games, for all they mean in the here and now, and even the future. That is so. These survey answers offer some insights, but it’s as interesting to figure the motives behind the questions. While both polls purport to look to the future, they say less about the aims and attitudes of voters than about those of the sponsors.




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