Tuesday, 23 February 2016 17:04

Polls: Rocky Start for Jon Bel Edwards, taxes hard sell, Kennedy stock high

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capitol red blueRocky 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 ratng 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 is 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.

    Over the past several years, the administration of Gov. Bobby Jindal drastically cut funding for higher education and health care as well as other areas where possible.

    So the attitude of Louisianians present a real challenge to Gov. John Bel Edwards and state legislators who are dealing with severe budget deficits.

    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 businesses – 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%.

    U.S. Rep. John Fleming (R) – 6%.

    Former Jefferson Parish President John Young (R) – 4%.

    Caroline Fayard (D) – 4%.

    Undecided – 30%.

How voters view officials

    SMOR also asked respondents for their opinion – whether positive or negative – on current elected officials.  Here are those results with positive rating first and then negative.

    Treasurer John Kennedy (R) – 65% -15%.

    Ag Commissioner Mike Strain (R) – 59%-12%.

    AG Jeff Landry (R) – 50%-14%.

    U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R) – 45%-32%.

    Secretary of State Tom Schedler – 43%-13%.

    Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser (R) – 42%-13%.

    Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) – 42%-25%.

    President Barack Obama (D) – 41%-58%.

A poll by UNO

    An opinion survey was conducted by Tony Licciardi, a University of New Orleans political science doctoral student who teachers State and Local Politics  at the university.

    A randomly selected sample of 1,053 respondents reflecting the population participated in the survey via automated telephone calling methods on February 14.

    Participants were first asked about the direction in which the state is headed.  Only 25% believe the state is headed in the right direction, 55% said wrong direction, and 20% didn’t know.

    Interestingly, 41% of Democrats believe the state is headed in the right direction, while only 12% of Republicans see it as heading in the right direction.

    That’s a bit ironic since Republicans have been in control of the state for the past eight years.

    On the favorability of Gov. John Bel Edwards, his aggregate ratings were 34.2% favorable, 44.8% unfavorable, and 21% don’t know. 

    It should be pointed out that Sen. David Vitter received 44% of the vote in the governor’s race, the same percentage that the survey found as giving Edwards an unfavorable rating.

    Finally, the poll surveyed the favorability ratings of candidates for the U.S. Senate.   They are:

    John Kennedy (R) 48% favorable, Scott Angelle (R) 30%,  Charles  Boustany (R) 20%,  John Fleming (R) 17%, Caroline Fayard (D) 12%, Rob Maness (R) 12%, and Joseph Cao (R) 9%.

    If this poll is accurate, it is obvious that the U.S. Senate candidates have a lot of work to do between now and November. 


Lou Gehrig Burnett

Lou Gehrig Burnett is the publisher of Fax-Net, a North-Louisiana newsletter.


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