Beginning with a minor point, if the sample were of likely voters (kind of early to ask), with the small Republican bias that tends to infiltrate that sampling frame Jindal probably would be over 50 percent. Moving to a larger concern that increases Jindal’s chances further, this assumes he has an opponent with any chance of electability, which means somebody with credibility and who can at least try to keep up with Jindal’s prodigious fundraising that leaves him, with his 2010 report to come soon, at almost $7.2 million and counting banked.
The two go hand-in-hand, as credibility, or belief someone can win, draws contributions, which means something unless you can plunk down several million bucks on your own. Such 2007 candidates like independent businessman John Georges and Democrat Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell have shown with their lack of performance then that they are not credible even if spending a lot of money. Democrat and former Rep. Charlie Melancon got brutalized by the electorate trying for the U.S. Senate last year and lost his stomach for electoral politics. Former Democrat Gov. Kathleen Blanco never has or will recover from her term’s showing. Democrat New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has the job he wants and got it recently, depleting both his desire and campaign account. Republican Treasurer John Kennedy has failed twice at a comparable office and with only a half million smackers at the end of 2009 in his campaign account would have great difficulty in getting enough resources to compete.
In any event, hypothetical matchups in the poll featuring Jindal and Landrieu or Kennedy have Jindal waxing both. Some Democrats, desperate to not to give Jindal a free pass without any meaningful competition as the clock ticks, have approached former interim Secretary of State Al Ater who launched wasteful and questionable voting initiatives in his brief tenure and who does not seem eager to come out of retirement and waste his time getting routed. Finding what at this moment appears to be a sacrificial lamb willing to spend a lot of his own money to satisfy an ego will not be easy.
Given that no candidate exists that could beat Jindal under current conditions, what might happen, other than scandal which (in personal comportment) the Jefferson Smith-like Jindal seems extraordinarily unlikely to suffer, that could make Jindal lose this contest? The poll’s author, in an effort that seems strained in order to help reassure the payers of the poll think they are getting more information than the obvious from it, speculates that a Tea Party-backed candidate could pull enough votes to send the contest into a general election runoff. Never mind that a number of those who said they would consider somebody else are conservatives who unlikely could find anybody as pleasing to them as Jindal, and so what if he gets pushed into another month of campaigning because he wins a second election anyway?
No, only a major disruption in the policy atmosphere has any remote chance to keep him from repeating. As this space has mentioned on several occasions before and during last year’s legislative session, the fiscal problems besetting the state required increased boldness out of Jindal, which, as things turned out, did not much transpire. Still, he and the Legislature muddled through to birth this year’s budget and with a cautiously-brightening revenue outlook, programmatic cuts of a draconian nature well may be avoided for next year’s.
For that is the only thing that even could make Jindal vulnerable, much less beatable – big cuts in the areas of health care and higher education, which legally together must bear the brunt of revenue losses. And by this I mean cuts resulting in mass layoffs at universities, students clamoring and unable to get in any colleges, more significant reductions in service hours for those utilizing Medicaid waiver services, and numerous defections out of it by Medicaid providers because of more rate cuts that slows treatment considerably. Only drastic events such as these would catch enough of the public’s attention and get deliberated by it as deleterious enough to the state for Jindal to draw substantial voter opposition.
This scenario seems very unlikely. Absent its manifestation, prepare for another Jindal inauguration in a little less than a year’s time. That’s the valid message from this poll.