Unfortunately, such keen attention has not been present in this election. According to a recent LSU Public Policy Research Lab poll, found only 40% of state voters are intently following the race. In addition, this race only attracted four major candidates, all well known politicians. Thus, the field consists of a U.S. Senator, the Lt. Governor, a Public Service Commissioner and a State Representative. All of these candidates are have plenty of experience, but, in 2015, many voters are not looking to support a typical politician.
Voters in Louisiana are no different from voters across the country. As evidence, just look at the GOP presidential race. The two leading candidates, Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson, have never held elected office, yet they are dominating well known politicians with decades of political experience.
The Louisiana Governor’s race does not have an outsider among the top tier of candidates. There is no one generating a massive amount of real enthusiasm, tapping into the large number of disaffected and disgruntled voters. Like millions of Americans from all over the country, a large segment of Louisiana voters are tired of lifelong politicians and are thirsting for independent outsiders.
Louisiana is also suffering from the effects of Jindal syndrome, a psychological feeling of abandonment caused by a self promoting, selfish Governor putting his personal political agenda over the needs of his constituents. The vast majority of Louisiana voters feel burned by the Iowa obsessed Jindal, who just released his second book and is in the process of visiting every Iowa County.
If only Jindal gave Louisiana voters half as much time as he is giving the people of Iowa. Instead, he is writing books, doing interviews on Iowa radio and television stations and trying to make outlandish statements so he will be noticed by the national cable news networks. So, it is understandable that Louisiana voters do not trust any of the candidates running for Governor; they have been abused by our current part-time Chief Executive.
Another cause of apathy is that the people of Louisiana see our longstanding problems and don’t believe any of these candidates can effectively deal with these core issues. For decades our state has been plagued by poor public education, coastal erosion, high crime, poverty, low wages, crumbling infrastructure and political corruption. In reality, very little to no progress has been made in recent years on any of these critical issues.
Finally, voter apathy increases as the television airwaves fill with negative commercials. In this race, the vast majority of such advertisements have appeared courtesy of David Vitter or the political action committee (PAC) that is supporting him in this race. Vitter and his PAC spent record amounts of money in his race, much more than his opponents and much of the spending focused on negative commercials about Dardenne and Angelle, his two GOP opponents.
With apathy aplenty in Louisiana this election season, the voter turnout will undoubtedly be abysmal on Saturday. Experts are predicting a turnout of only 45%, a pathetic figure for a state that is accustomed to significant voter interest. For example, in the 1991 Duke-Edwards gubernatorial runoff, 73% of eligible voters cast their ballots.
Let’s hope that from the ashes of the 2015 Governor’s race a new type of politics will arise in Louisiana, focusing on fresh candidates with positive messages. Then, maybe, we can finally elect a Governor who will concentrate on the duties of the office and start to address the multitude of longstanding problems afflicting our state.