A recent statewide survey by veteran pollster Verne Kennedy found that most Louisiana voters still love Gov. Bobby Jindal — but they do not want to see him seek and win a third term, even if he sits out four years after completing his second term. Some have speculated that Jindal's former Chief of Staff Timmy Teepell floated the third term idea to make sure Jindal maintains his fundraising bona fides and to prevent potential rivals (as well as lawmakers) from casting him as a lame duck even before his second term begins.
Louisiana governors are limited to two consecutive terms, but those who are term limited can run again after sitting out for four years, as four-time Gov. Edwin Edwards did in 1983.
After explaining that Jindal can serve only two consecutive terms and will be term limited four years from now, pollsters asked voters if they preferred that Jindal return for a third term in eight years or that he "not return for governor and let someone new be governor." The results showed 57 percent preferred that Jindal not seek a third term; only 32 percent favored a third term for him. Eleven percent were uncertain.
The Kennedy poll did not measure Jindal's popularity among voters, but another recent survey did. A poll by OnMessage, a communications firm that recently hired Teepell and which typically works for Republicans, showed Jindal getting a 71 percent "favorable" rating among voters and only 21 percent "unfavorable" marks. That was the best showing by any Louisiana politician in that survey.
The Kennedy poll was commissioned by a group of Louisiana business folks, including businessman-turned-candidate John Georges, who ran for governor in 2007 as an independent (after spending years as a Republican), then for mayor of New Orleans in 2010 as a Democrat. Georges remains a Democrat.
The Kennedy survey also measured voters' attitudes about the 2015 governor's race. In a trial heat featuring Georges, U.S. Sen. David Vitter, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and state Treasurer John Kennedy, Georges ran first with 34 percent, followed by Vitter with 22 percent, Dardenne with 17 percent and Kennedy with 9 percent. Eighteen percent were uncertain. Vitter, Dardenne and Kennedy are Republicans. No other Democrats were included in the gubernatorial question.
However, perhaps the most interesting revelations about the next governor's race came in responses to several questions about Vitter. Many political observers speculate that Vitter may be interested in running for governor in 2015, especially after he played such a heavy hand — albeit unsuccessfully in most cases — in the recent round of statewide elections.
The Kennedy poll showed Vitter with less than ideal standing among Louisiana voters. For example, as many voters think of him unfavorably as favorably — exactly 35 percent leaning each way. Someone with Vitter's profile who is contemplating a run for governor would generally want to have at least a 50 percent favorable rating — and not more than half that much in "unfavorables."
When asked how likely they would be to vote for Vitter for governor in 2015, nearly half the voters interviewed — 49 percent — said they would "definitely" or "probably" not vote for him, compared to only 36 percent who said they would "definitely" or "probably" vote for him.
The next governor's race, of course, is a long, long way off. A lot of things can (and probably will) happen between now and then to change those numbers, not the least of which will be the campaign itself. — Clancy DuBos