More Louisianans are identifying themselves as Democrats, even as the state’s voters shy way from characterizing themselves as ‘liberal,’ according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday.
Forty-five percent of adults in the state said they identified as Democrats or Democratic-leaning, while 41% said they identified as Republicans.
It’s good news for one vulnerable Louisiana Democrat who is running for re-election: Sen. Mary Landrieu, who is neck-and-neck with Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy. Recent polls show her leading by just a few percentage points. One prominent Democratic political consultant said Landrieu may have even prompted the blue-party boost.
“Mary Landrieu’s been on TV for six months, that certainly helps, she’s a good brand,” said Michael Beychok, a Baton Rouge-based political consultant working on national campaigns in Louisiana, Maine, Arkansas and Kansas.
Still, in the Gallup poll, Louisianans shied away from characterizing themselves as “liberal.” Just 17% of Louisianans said they were liberal, while 34% said they were moderate and 45% said they were conservative.
“This conservative bent may seem contradictory, given the lower percentage identifying as Republicans in Louisiana,” Gallup noted. But “the high number of [elected] conservatives suggests that right-leaning Louisianans may be voting along ideological rather than partisan lines.”
It may also indicate that while conservatism in the Southern, historically red-state isn’t waning, the Republican Party’s brand has suffered in the year since the national party’s far-right flank led the government into a 16-day shutdown over Obamacare.
Or perhaps, the cause is a little closer to home. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, has seen a drop in his approval rating recently.
“People are finally seeing the result of Republican policies, Jindal’s policies, national Republican policies,” Beychok told msnbc, citing Jindal’s refusal to take federal funds to expand Medicaid as one particularly unpopular policy.
The state has voted Republican in presidential contests for nearly two decades – the last time a Democrat won a general election in Louisiana was 1996, when another red-state liberal, President Bill Clinton, was running for re-election.
The percentage of Louisianans who identify as Republican and Republican-leaning has been falling since it peaked at 46% 2011, and the number of people who identify as Democrats has been on the rise for the last year, according to Gallup.
Beychok said he expects the leftward shift to continue.
“I’m a big believer in the political pendulum swinging back and forth. It’s clearly swung in Louisiana to the Republican side for 10-12 years,” he said.