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Nothing New for Landrieu


According to a new poll from Southern Media and Opinion Research (SMOR) of Baton Rouge, Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is in hot water with some Louisiana voters.

That is nothing new for Landrieu. During her three terms in the U.S. Senate, the veteran senator has found herself in that predicament several times before because of votes she has cast on controversial issues.

The latest dilemma for Landrieu is her vote for the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. SMOR’s survey shows that 59% of respondents do not like it. And 32% say her support of Obamacare makes them less likely to vote for her.

One-issue voters have to be a major concern for Landrieu as she seeks a fourth six-year term in 2014. The hope of her campaign team is that her powerful position in the U.S. Senate and all the good things she has done for the state will trump that one issue.

To be sure, the disastrous roll-out of Obamacare and the fact that people have not been able to keep their present insurance – as promised by President Obama and Landrieu – has taken a political toll, dropping her job approval rating by 10 points since SMOR’s last poll, which was in the Spring of 2014.

Landrieu’s job approval rating currently sits at 46%. Nevertheless, she still leads her two Republican opponents in the SMOR poll in a three-way trial heat. When asked who they would vote for if the election were held today, 41% said Landrieu, 34% said U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, and 10% said retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness.

To be fair, these are the results after Landrieu has been hit with negative ads around the state because of her support for Obamacare. No positive ads have yet been run by the Landrieu campaign.

When asked if they had a favorable or unfavorable impression of the three candidates, 49% of respondents said they had a favorable impression of Landrieu. The favoable rating for Cassidy was 50%, and 38% for Maness.

But to show the sharp divide facing Landrieu, 48% said they had an unfavorable impression of her. On the other hand, Cassidy’s unfavorable rating was only 26%, and Maness came in at 35%.

It is obvious that some voters do not understand or care about the importance to the state of Landrieu’s seniority in the U.S. Senate. When asked about that, 56% said they wanted someone new, while 37% want to keep her in office.

Of particular concern to Landrieu has to be the fact that she has lost ground among white male and female Democrats. Her positive job ratings dropped 17% among males and 19% among females. The big question is whether these Democrats will return to the Landrieu fold when the election rolls around.

The SMOR poll indicates that, as of today, Landrieu faces an uphill battle for re-election unless she can resolve the issue of supporting Obamacare. She is currently working on legislation to correct some of the unpopular aspects of it, such as allowing people to keep their present insurance if they are happy with it.

November 2014 is still a long way off, and a lot can happen between now and then. But it’s a given that the state’s senior senator will have another tough race.


Who’s most popular?

Who do voters think is doing a good job in their respective elected positions? In other words, what is the job approval rating for these officials.

State Treasurer John Kennedy and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne are in a virtual tie for the top honor, according to the SMOR poll.

Here are the job approval ratings for those who were included in the poll:

State Treasurer John Kennedy (R) – 62%.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne (R) – 61%.

U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R) – 58%.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) – 46%.

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) – 42%.

President Barack Obama (D) – 39%.

U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) – 38%.

lou BurnettThe approval ratings are good news for Dardenne, who is running for governor, and Kennedy, who might.

Jindal’s approval rating ticked up 4% since SMOR’s last poll, going from 38% to 42%. He is now more popular than President Obama in the state, but not by much.

What’s interesting is that Cassidy got a 38% job approval rating, which is in conflict with the 50% favorable impression he received on another question in the poll.

That is likely because he in the only one who is not a statewide official, therefore many people outside his Congressional district are not familiar with his job performance. At least, that’s probably the spin the Cassidy campaign will give to his low rating.


The 2015 governor’s race

SMOR also took a look at the 2015 Louisiana governor’s race. Current Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal is term-limited and cannot seek a third term.

Among those surveyed, it appears that Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter is in a good position to capture the state’s top job if he wants it.

He is the front-runner, getting 30% of the vote in the SMOR poll. He has a favorable rating with 80% of the Republican respondents, which would be a plus in a crowded gubernatorial field.

Here is how the survey for governor came out:

U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R) – 30%.

State Treasurer John Kennedy (R) – 19%.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne (R) – 18%.

State Rep. John Bel Edwards (D) – 8%.

Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle (R) – 2%.

Undecided – 23%.

Certainly, Edwards, if he is the lone Democrat, would do better than 8% of the vote. So should Republicans Kennedy and Dardenne, who have higher approval ratings than Vitter.

Things could change. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu was not included in the poll. Some political pundits believe he will run if his sister, Sen. Mary Landrieu, wins a fourth term.

These same pundits feel that if the Republicans win control of the U.S. Senate in 2014, Vitter will stay there because he would be in a position to chair one or more powerful Senate committees.

If the Democrats retain control in the Senate, it is likely that Vitter will opt to run for the top job in Louisiana.


Say it ain’t so

The U.S. Senate race has taken an ugly, classless turn, and if this is any indication of how Republicans will approach the race, it is only the beginning.

The conservative Louisiana blog, Hayride, posted an image of Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu superimposed on the body of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

The blog did so because Landrieu voted with the majority in the Senate to invoke the so-called nuclear option, which stripped the minority’s ability to filibuster executive branch nominees and most judicial nominees.

That legislation makes it possible for presidential nominations to be approved with a majority vote, eliminating the heretofore 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.

It took the campaign of one of Landrieu’s GOP opponents, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, only about an hour to revel in the post and tweet out a link to it. Joel DiGrado, Cassidy’s campaign manager, was the guilty party.

DiGrado – and Cassidy – are avoiding the issue and have not responded to media requests for comment.

The incident came just two days after a staffer at the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) tweeted a photo of Kentucky Democratic U.S. Sen. Alison Lundergan Grimes’s face on the body of “Obama Girl,” the model whose videos about her “crush” on Obama went viral during the 2008 election.

It will be interesting to see how female voters react to these tasteless attacks on female legislators. It is always a risky business when going negative on female candidates.


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

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.