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For Whom the Poll Tolls

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Three political polls conducted in Louisiana were released last week, and they had widely differing results. It reinforces what many political analysts always say: Look at who paid for the poll to determine its viability.

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal and his buddy and top campaign consultant Timmy Teepell touted a poll which showed the governor’s approval rating had made a remarkable positive leap.

Jindal, Teepell, and the LAGOP yelled from the top of the state capitol, well at least from the fourth floor, that 50% of the state’s voters now approve of the job the governor is doing.

lou BurnettA closer look revealed that the poll had been conducted by Teepell’s employer OnMessage Inc. out of Alexandria, Virginia, and was paid for by the Bobby Jindal campaign.

The euphoria among the Jindal faithful was short-lived. Next came a poll from the GOP polling firm, Harper Polling/Conservative Intel. It was not revealed who paid for the poll, if anyone did.

The results burst the Jindal campaign’s bubble, giving the governor an approval rating of 35%. That’s the same result Southern Media Opinion & Research (SMOR) got when it polled back in April 2013.

But the bad news for the Jindal faithful was not over just yet. A third poll by Public Policy Polling (PPP), independently conducted, came in with an approval rating of 28% for Jindal, a far cry from the 50% he had in his own poll.

One can give the Jindal campaign an E for effort in trying to boost the governor’s political stock. In politics, however, timing is everything.

There was no way the Jindal camp knew that two more polls would be released just hours after their Jindal-Teepell poll.

The PPP approval rating of 28% makes Jindal the most unpopular of all Republican governors.

 

What about Mary Landrieu?

It appears that the main objective of the polls by OnMessage and Harper Polling/Conservative Intel was to take down Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who is seeking a fourth six-year term.

Her main opponent is Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge. However, Cassidy is being roughed up a bit by Republican Ron Maness of Madisonville, who says he will be a candidate.

Maness has garnered endorsements from the Tea Party and a host of conservative groups by claiming that Cassidy is not conservative enough to defeat Landrieu.

The aggressive campaign by Maness now has some rank-and-file Republicans wondering if Cassidy is the right candidate to go up against the state’s senior Democratic U.S. senator, who is battle-tough, having won three close races for the U.S. Senate.

Interestingly, in the two GOP polling organizations show Cassidy is competitive. OnMessage has the race a virtual tie, and Harper Polling/Conservative Intel has Cassidy leading Landrieu by a 47-45% margin.

But PPP’s poll, the independent pollster of the three, tells a different story. Its survey shows Landrieu leading Cassidy 50-40% with 10% undecided.

When Maness is added to the mix, the results are: Landrieu 48%, Cassidy 24%, and Maness 5%. A whopping 23% are undecided.

PPP’s poll shows that Landrieu still has a fair amount of crossover support from Republicans, with 22-23% of them choosing her over Cassidy. On the other side of that coin, Cassidy attracts 12-16% of the Democratic vote.

But PPP also concludes that Landrieu’s 10-point lead will narrow as the race progresses and more voters get to know Cassidy. His name recognition in the state is only 51%.

Six months have passed since PPP last polled the Louisiana U.S. Senate race. It says that Landrieu’s fortunes have not changed and she remains the favorite for re-election.

Dean Debnam, president of PPP, noted that the poll was not authorized or paid for by any campaign or political organization.

The Fax-Net will have other interesting findings by the poll next week.

 

Barnburner brewing?

A barnburner of an election is brewing in state Senate District 36 where incumbent Republican Sen. Robert Adley is term-limited in 2014 after serving three consecutive terms.

It’s a plum of a state Senate seat and some well-known names are already bouncing around as potential candidates.

Two Republican state representatives – Henry Burns and Jeff Thompson – have indicated they plan to seek the seat. That in itself would make for an interesting race.

But a new name has entered the mix, which could change the dynamics of the race. That well-known name in former state Rep. Billy Montgomery. He told the Fax-Net he is definitely giving the race some consideration.

And there is another name being mentioned by politicos. It’s Richey Jackson, a Republican who lost the state representative race to Burns by 87 votes in 2007. Jackson has long had a desire to serve in the Louisiana Legislature.

Burns is serving his second term in House District 9 in the Louisiana House. After winning the close race over Jackson in 2007, he was unopposed for a second term in 2011. Prior to that, Burns served 15 years on the Bossier Parish School Board.

Thompson is serving his first term in House District 8, winning the election in 2011 when Rep. Jane Smith was term-limited. In 2008, Thompson ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House in District 4.

Montgomery represented House District 9 for 20 years. He ran for the state Senate District 37 seat in 2007 vacated by Sen. Max Malone, who was term-limited, and lost in the runoff to B.L. “Buddy” Shaw.

Jackson, a retired educator, is director of the Bossier/Webster Parish Truancy Center.

Burns, Thompson, Montgomery, and Jackson are currently all registered Republicans.

So, keep an eye on this one. It could be one of the interesting legislative races in 2014.

 

On the campaign trail

Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser is not wasting any time in his quest to become lieutenant governor of Louisiana.

Even though the election is not until 2015, he is already on the campaign trail. He was in northwest Louisiana last week and hosted a fundraiser at 2Johns Restaurant in Bossier City.

An impressive crowd was on hand, and Nungesser was his usual affable self. He gained national notoriety with television appearances in his devastated parish after Hurricane Katrina.

Nungesser, a Republican, ran for lieutenant governor in 2011 against incumbent Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and was defeated by a 53-47% margin.

This time, the state’s number two position will be an open seat because Dardenne is running for governor. Several candidates are expected to run for the seat.

 

Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of national and local politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter.