Opinion: Lou Gehrig Burnett – Political Polls Abound

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Political Polls Abound

Rocky start for JBE?
A new poll by Southern Media and Opinion Research (SMOR) produced some interesting results on the current political climate in Louisiana. The poll was conducted by telephone with 500 likely voters from Tuesday, February 2 through Thursday, February 4.

First off, SMOR did a survey of how citizens felt about incoming governors from 1992-2016, which includes Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.
Perhaps not surprisingly, he has a job approval rating of only 42% after less than two months in office. He has had very little good news to share with the citizens of the Pelican State because of severe budget woes dropped in his lap by former Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal.

According to the poll, apparently respondents are taking a wait-and-see attitude about the new governor. Only 25% gave Edwards a poor rating, while 34% are undecided. How does that compare with other governors?  In 2008, 77% had a favorable impression of Republican Bobby Jindal as he headed to the governor’s office. SMOR emphasizes that it’s not a job performance  rating, just an impression.

In 2004, Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco had a  job performance rating of 59%, a poor rating of 9%, with 32% undecided.  Of course, the bottom fell out for Blanco in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, leading to Jindal being elected.
Other first polls done on governors by SMOR showed that Republican Gov. Mike Foster in 1996 had a job approval rating of 56%, a negative of 21%, and 22% undecided.

Now we come to the other Gov. Edwards – Edwin.  In 1992, a SMOR poll showed him with a job approval rating of 42%, the same as Gov. John Bel Edwards.  But Gov. Edwin Edwards had a negative of 35% with 23% undecided.
So, yes, it is plausible to say that Gov. John Bel Edwards if off to a bit of a rocky start.  When faced  with a budget hole of about $3 billion, there’s very little he can do to please voters.

Thumbs down on taxes
The late Louisiana U.S. Sen. Russell Long coined a phrase when he was chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.  It was: “Don’t tax you.  Don’t tax me.  Tax that fellow behind the tree.”

That phrase lives on, apparently, with Louisiana citizens who want all the government services, but don’t feel they have to pay for them. The SMOR poll revealed that 54% believe that the state budget can be balanced without raising taxes.  Thirty-eight percent say new taxes are needed.

In SMOR’s poll, the only proposed taxes that received a majority opinion were raising the cigarette tax (66%), the tax on beer, wine, and liquor (62%), and raising the corporate income tax (50%).

Here  are  the  results  of  other  proposed  tax  increases put to respondents by SMOR:
Increase personal income tax – 73% oppose.
Increase state sales tax from 4 cents to 5 cents – 59% oppose.
Increase tax on telephone and cell phones – 83% oppose.
Impose a state tax on car rentals – 54% oppose.
Increase taxes paid by businessess – 54% oppose.

Results on U.S. Senate race
SMOR also tested declared and potential  candidates looking to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Sen. David Vitter.  The election  is set for this November. The results:

State Treasurer John Kennedy (R) – 22%.
U S. Rep. Charles Boustany (R) – 10%.
Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle (R) – 10%.
Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D) – 7%.
Rob Maness (R) – 7%.
Rep. John Fleming (R) – 6%.
Former Jefferson President John Young (R) – 4%.
Caroline Fayard (D) – 4%.
Undecided – 30%.

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