In a new poll of 600 Louisiana voters conducted by Market Research Insight for a consortium of business interests, Gov. Bobby Jindal is the favored candidate in a hypothetical three-way race pitting the first-term Republican against state Treasurer John Kennedy and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

The poll finds Jindal garnering 51 percent of the vote in the race, followed by Landrieu (25 percent) and Kennedy (10 percent). Of note: 35 percent of the poll respondents live in the New Orleans area where Landrieu is a popular first-term mayor. The remainder of Louisiana’s metropolitan areas — Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe and Alexandria — are represented in the poll roughly commensurate with their populations.

The poll also gauges such factors as name recognition, favorability ratings and party affiliation. In accordance with recent historical trends, 28 percent of respondents identify with or are registered Republicans while 19 percent go with the Democrats. Amazingly, 1 percent of the poll’s respondents didn’t know who the governor of Louisiana is.

According to MRI President Verne Kennedy:
Two issues at least partly responsible for the decline in the governor’s popularity are the budget deficit and critics claiming he does not work well with the State Legislature. If Jindal’s popularity continues to fall because of these and other issues, he could see a number of opponents.  

John Kennedy, no relation to the pollster, has proposed a 16-point plan that is attracting some interest. Although only 23 percent have heard about Kennedy’s plan, 64 percent of those who are familiar with it say it makes them more likely that they would favor Kennedy for governor if he became a candidate.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has high name recognition statewide (93 percent) and a much higher ratio of voters holding a favorable opinion compared to an unfavorable one (5.1 to 1) than Jindal (2.2 to 1). However, it is obvious that voters want Landrieu to continue the good job he is doing in New Orleans, at least for now.

Although not tested in the survey, the Tea Party, which did well in 2010 congressional elections, could become a factor if Jindal were opposed by a popular and well-funded Democrat. A Tea Party candidate would pull much more from Jindal’s Republican base than from a Democrat, potentially putting the governor in a runoff election.

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