Southern Media & Opinion Research Spring Poll: Jindal Approval Holds Up, State Leges Generally Disliked

from a press release by Southern Media & Opinion Research, through businessman Lane Grigsby’s website at Grigsby funded the survey whose results are described below…

Louisiana voters are unhappy with the job state lawmakers are doing, according to the latest survey from Southern Media & Opinion Research Inc.

Developed and conducted by Southern Media & Opinion Research, the survey shows more than half the respondents – nearly 52 percent – said state lawmakers have done a “poor” or “not so good” job in office.

Meanwhile, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s popularity remained unchanged from SMOR’s November poll. In the latest survey, Jindal received an overall positive job rating of 55 percent, the same as the fall, while his negative job rating rose 1 percentage point higher to 44 percent.

“The governor doesn’t appear to be in any danger of missing reelection this fall, especially without any real challenger so far,” said pollster Bernie Pinsonat. “But his approval ratings are the same as the fall and have actually gone down over the course of his term. That’s significant, considering that Jindal is regarded as a reform governor.”

Pinsonat said that while voters had high expectations of Jindal and the Legislature, the latest poll results show that many voters feel those expectations are not being met.

“Legislators have generally followed the governor’s lead on many issues,” Pinsonat said. “But the poll shows that voters’ impressions of where the state is headed overall hasn’t really changed much.”

SMOR developed and conducted the survey that took place April 19-23 using telephone interviews with 600 randomly selected Louisiana voters on both landlines and cell phones. The overall margin of error is 4.0 percentage points at a 95 percent level of confidence.

Among other poll results:

  • In another sign of voters’ dissatisfaction with lawmakers, nearly 69 percent of respondents said state tax dollars were not being spent wisely.
  • When asked about the cause of Louisiana’s budget crisis, just over 60 percent said it was too much spending. While respondents overwhelmingly opposed raising state income, sales and business taxes, 66 percent favored raising taxes on cigarettes.
  • Nearly 60 percent of respondents said legislators acted in their own interest in the most recent effort to redraw congressional districts.
  • Despite some complaints that it’s too costly for the state, the TOPS college scholarship program remains popular among Louisiana voters. Nearly 86 percent of respondents said the state should keep the current requirements for qualifying – a 2.5 grade point average and an ACT score of 20.
  • Respondents were generally split on the issue of merging the University of New Orleans and Southern University’s New Orleans campus – 42 percent favored the move compared to 40 percent opposed.
  • A year after last year’s massive Gulf Coast oil spill, the poll shows BP remains unpopular in Louisiana. A combined 65 percent of respondents said their overall impression of the company was somewhat or very unfavorable. When asked whether they trusted BP to pay for damages or if the government should hold the company accountable, 75 percent favored government involvement.

Jindal’s popularity unchanged from November
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s popularity remained virtually unchanged from the Southern Media & Opinion Research survey conducted in November. He received an overall positive job rating of 55 percent, identical to the November survey. His negative job rating rose 1 percentage point higher to 44 percent.

By comparison, Mike Foster, the state’s last Republican governor before Jindal, was in a much stronger position heading into reelection. In June 1999, Foster enjoyed a positive job-performance rating of 77.4 percent and a negative rating of 18.4 percent. At similar points in their gubernatorial tenures, Foster topped Jindal’s popularity by 22 percent. Jindal’s campaign has been running television ads across the state.

According to the survey results, however, the ads did not improve hispopularity reelection outlook. Respondents who said they are definitely voting to reelect Jindal fell from 39 percent to 35.6 percent. These numbers might be considered anemic, but with more than $10 million in campaign contributions and no opponent in sight, Jindal seems to be cruising to an easy reelection this fall.

When asked to compare Jindal to former governors, 40.9 percent of respondents said Jindal was better – a rather low number when taking into account Jindal is commonly considered a reform governor. Among white respondents, 53 percent rated him better, while 63.5 percent of all black respondents said Jindal was not as good.

President Obama’s ratings unchanged
President Obama’s job ratings are divided along racial lines – black respondents gave him high positive ratings, while whites gave him high negative ratings. Overall, 58 percent of respondents gave Obama negative job ratings.

Democrats’ attack of Vitter unsuccessful
Fifty-eight percent of respondents gave Sen. David Vitter a positive job rating. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Republican’s ratings were very high among white voters, his base of support, at 68 percent. During Vitter’s successful reelection bid last fall, Democrats attacked with ads aimed atVitter’s support among women. The strategy didn’t work, however. Survey results show Vitter performed slightly better with white women than white men and the absence of any so-called gender gap in his support.

Kennedy remains popular
Treasurer John Kennedy remains popular with a positive job rating of 63.5percent and a very low poor job rating of 5.5 percent.

Dardenne looks strong heading into fall
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne had the biggest increase in popularity from 2010. As Lt. Gov.-elect in November 2010, he had a positive job rating of less than 50 percent. The most recent survey shows his positive job rating is 62.8 percent, with a negative rating of 18 percent. Dardenne is in a very strong position to be reelected this fall.

Caldwell unaffected by party switch
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s popularity appears unaffected by his recent switch to the Republican Party. His positive job rating among respondents was 60 percent – unchanged from November when Caldwell was a Democrat.

Strain in position for reelection
Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain appears in strong position for reelection this fall. He received a positive job rating from 58.9 percent of respondents, while 11.8 percent gave him a negative rating.

Donelon also strong headed to elections
Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon had positive job ratings from 48.8 percent of respondents. Twenty percent of respondents said they didn’t know enough about him to rate his performance. Barring any controversial insurance issues until the fall elections, Donelon appears in strong position for reelection.

Schedler an unknown commodity
Tom Schedler was elected secretary of state after his former boss, Jay Dardenne, moved on to lieutenant governor. Schedler, however, appears to be an unknown commodity among Louisiana voters. Forty-four percent of survey respondents didn’t know enough about Schedler to rate his job performance.

Schedler is likely to face serious opposition for reelection this fall. Unlike Dardenne, who had a huge base of voters in the Baton Rouge area, Schedler will be forced to devote much of his campaign resources to boosting his name recognition.

Legislature not seen as progressive
When asked to rate the performance of Louisiana lawmakers, a modest 13 percent of respondents said the current group was doing a better job than previous legislatures, while 59.7 percent said the current legislature is about the same as predecessors. Twenty-two point nine percent said the current legislature was not as good as preceding groups.

When asked about progress on public education, roads, public health care, job opportunities, higher education and management of state government – respondents gave negative ratings. Eighty-six percent said they would not vote to reelect legislators who approve a pay raise.

About 60 percent of respondents thought legislators acted in their own best interest during the recent special session on congressional redistricting, while 23 percent said lawmakers voted in the best interest of their constituents.

In short, the latest survey shows that while respondents don’t consider the current Legislature as the worst, they also don’t consider the current group as anything special, so far.

TOPS program remains popular
The TOPS college scholarship program remains very popular. When asked whether the state should continue its commitment to high school graduates who qualify, 85 percent of respondents said yes compared to 12 percent who said say no. Also, 75 percent of respondents did not favor placing limits on state money spent on TOPS compared to 21 percent in favor. Regardless of age, race or gender, TOPS is a very popular government program.

Respondents do not see progress on several issues

The Legislature need look no further in the current survey for answers to why voters believe lawmakers don’t deserve a pay raise or that the current group is no better than past legislatures. None (no progress) is chosen by one third of all respondents, while less than 10 percent said lots of progress has been made.

Respondents saw little or no progress in key area that state government (the Legislature) oversees. Would Gov. Jindal’s popularity be in the mid fifties if most respondents thought lots of progress was made in the areas listed above?

Spending our tax dollars
About 70 percent of respondents said they do not believe their tax dollars are being spent wisely. Sixty percent of all respondents said the current financial crisis was caused by too much spending.

Increasing taxes to balance the budget
Respondents were strongly opposed to increasing state income, sales and business taxes. However, increasing cigarette taxes to balance the state budget was favored by 72 percent. Taxing cigarettes to fund government spending is popular.

Democrats switching to Republican Party
When asked about politicians who have recently switched party affiliation from Democrat to Republican, 38 percent of respondents said it was because of political reasons. Seventeen percent said it was because of Democrats’ negative image.

Pay-raise vote could be key in legislative reelection bids
Eighty-six percent of respondents said they were less likely to vote for state legislators who supported giving themselves a pay raise.

Legislative remap special session
When asked about the recent special legislative session on congressional redistricting, 60 percent of respondents said lawmakers acted in their own best interest, while 23.7 percent thought lawmakers acted in the best interest of their constituents.

Respondents were generally split when asked if the job of redistricting should be taken away from the Legislature and given to an independent commission. About 46 percent favored an independent commission, while 42 percent wanted the Legislature to keep control. The results suggest lots of voters don’t believe commissions are independent.

UNO-SUNO merger legislation
The controversial proposal to merge the University of New Orleans with Southern University’s New Orleans campus was virtually a dead heat in the survey. Forty-two percent of respondents were in favor compared to 40 percent opposed. Among white respondents, 51 percent were in favor and 28 percent opposed, compared to 70 percent of blacks opposed.

New nuclear-power plants in Louisiana
Asked about new nuclear-power plant construction in Louisiana, 43 percent of respondents were in favor compared to 49 percent opposed.

Much of the opposition came from women – 60 percent said they did not favor any new nuclear plants. Sixty percent of men favored new nuclear plants.

One year anniversary of BP oil spill
Two thirds of respondents have an unfavorable opinion of BP. Three fourths of all respondents said they didn’t trust the company to do the right thing when it comes to paying for damages and lost wages. Most wanted the government to hold BP accountable. BP’s ad campaign after the spill didn’t help the company’s image or lead many voters to believe BP can be trusted.

Trust and confidence in Louisiana elected officials
Only 7 percent of respondents said they have trust and confidence in state public officials to do the right thing. Forty-three percent have some trust and confidence in public officials in Louisiana to do the right thing. Thirty three percent had a little confidence and fourteen percent had no confidence in Louisiana public officials to do the right thing.

When voters were asked if all, most, some or a few public officials in Louisiana are corrupt, 4 percent thought all public officials were corrupt. Thirteen percent thought most were corrupt and 55 percent thought some were corrupt, while 25 percent thought only a few were corrupt.

With the number of ongoing federal investigations and prosecutions of Louisiana public officials these numbers should not come as a surprise.



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