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Obamacare implosion to sink Landrieu chances further

Veteran political observer John Maginnis declared that the partial government shutdown of the first half of October produced no real political winners or losers among Louisiana federal government elected officials. He’s quite correct, but the real story is how this will be a non-issue compared to the ongoing issue and the reverberating ramifications of the internal contradictions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) on the fortunes of Senate candidates.

Maginnis notes that while polling data in Louisiana, from the Democrat-aligned firm Public Policy Polling, conducted toward the end of that period showed by 47-32 percent respondents were less likely to want to vote for GOP Senate candidate Rep. Bill Cassidy and gave incumbent Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu a 48-41 lead, data from the Republican-oriented firm Harper Polling revealed Landrieu led only 46-44 and 45 percent said they would vote for a Republican for Senate while just 41 percent for a Democrat. This poll, however, was conducted just before Oct. 1.

Interestingly, the PPP numbers actually improved for Cassidy from the middle of August, when he was supposedly down to Landrieu by 10 points and he gained a point in projected vote. Further, the latest still showed Landrieu could not crack 50 percent approval among voters; historically, incumbents who cannot do this a year from an election almost always end up losing. And this was with Cassidy rated unknown by 55 percent of voters and the 45 percent who ventured a likeability rating on Cassidy about split; typically, as quality challengers become better known, they gain proportionally more in liking than disliking among voters, to the detriment of the incumbent’s vote share.


Runoff dynamics for CD 5 favor Riser substantially

Now the question is whether political newcomer Vance McAllister can do it again, by defeating state Sen. Neil Riser in the runoff for the Congressional District 5 special election on Nov. 16. Chances are the same dynamics that led to his upset second-place showing in the general election will keep him out of the office.

McAllister won a runoff spot because in a general election field of 14, in an election that was standalone for many voters, he mobilized two constituencies large enough to get him over the 15 percent of the vote needed to capture it. One was the anti-politician crowd, especially incensed at the big spending that hallmarks the Pres. Barack Obama Administration that Congress (with too little Republican resistance to stop) continues to endorse, who looked for a credible non-politician to back. The other was people less reliably interested in politics but turned on by his affiliation with the family that stars in the reality television show Duck Dynasty, differentiating him from the other reliably conservative Republicans like Riser in the race. By apparently plowing hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own funds into the contest, much in the last week, he made himself visible enough to have those kinds of voters activated or aware he was out there.

But the lightning is unlikely to strike twice given the nature of the election will be different. He will have nearly triple his vote proportion, with a limited base on which to expand. Other Republicans in the race tried to position themselves as Washington outsiders, but they only got about 20 percent of the vote. Some may gravitate to McAllister, but others went with the other pair of candidates because they preferred more experience and their issue preferences. Many of them will sit it out or side with Riser. And it’s not likely that significantly more casual voters can be mobilized using the celebrity factor than were there for the general election.


LA legislative term limits continue to demonstrate value

The headline reads “Term limits have Louisiana politicians searching for new elections.” And that’s a good thing, despite that some contest that the overall term limits experience for Louisiana has been positive.

At the state level, the limits in question concern the three consecutive term limit for a legislator in the same office. It is diluted, because it allows limited members in one chamber to try to win election in the other, subverting to some degree the idea and allowing politicians to continue serving in an office nearly identical in power and scope. Because of this, interestingly the average length of continuous service in the Legislature at the beginning of 2004 for the typical senator, the last term before limits went into effect, was slightly shorter (just over 7 years) than in 2008, the first term affected by limits (almost 7¼) because of all that jumping.

(Keep in mind that now Pres. John Alario brought 36 years with him, skewing the average up by almost a point. When all was said and done, the 13 successful jumpers averaged a shade over 12 years in House experience, while the returning senators averaged just under 5 in their chamber. At the beginning of 2012, with 10 more jumpers successful – totaling now after a couple of early departures 21 of 39 – average years served by then nudged up almost a full year to over 8.)


Surplus spoken for; no increased spending from it

Cautious optimism may have sprouted from a recent estimate that Louisiana finished fiscal year 2013 nearly $163 million in the black, but caution dictates this money and other projected savings go to fulfilling an unusual legal requirement so fantasies of beefing up state spending remain just that.

On the heels of the production of the state budget for FY 2014, which gives expenditure totals close to what actually occurred  from July of last year through this past June, revenue estimates as of now made by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Division of Administration show this surplus. Final numbers won’t be in until the end of the year, but this should not drift much lower. Shortly before then, the Revenue Estimating Conference will meet to produce the official numbers that may be used for budgeting for FY 2015 next year.

Any leftover surplus can be used for just a small selection of purposes, all of which deal with long-term expenditures. But even as legislators mused about what to do with it, state Sen. Jack Donahue had the right idea from the eligible purposes – put the money into the Budget Stabilization Fund, the state’s savings account that can be used to offset state-generated revenue declines – even if he and the state really have little choice in the matter.