The conservative Washington Times reports today that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) is gearing up for a presidential campaign, despite the fact that his national ambitions are hampered by his unpopularity in his home state.
In fairness to the far-right governor, he’s not the only national candidate with this problem. Much of the Republican presidential field is struggling with the fact that voters in their own states are unimpressed by their records.
But Jindal is the only one who’s prepared an amazing argument to explain his unpopularity with his own constituents. Consider his comments over the weekend in New Hampshire at a multi-candidate event:
“[W]hen I was elected to my first term we won in the primaries, something that had never been done before by a non-incumbent. My second election, my re-election, we got the largest percentage of the vote ever, over two-thirds.“And I’m here to tell you, my popularity has certainly dropped at least 15 to 20 points because we’ve cut government spending, because we took on the teacher unions.“But we need that kind of leadership in D.C.”
I’m not sure Jindal appreciates how unintentionally funny this argument really is.
As the Louisiana governor sees it, he ran for statewide office, promising voters to pursue a conservative policy agenda, and he won easily. Once in office, Jindal kept his promise, cut spending, and governed as a far-right elected official.
And according to Jindal, people hated it. According to his own version of events, his constituents – residents of a ruby-red state in the Deep South – saw their governor implement his vision, causing Jindal’s public support to drop “at least” 15 to 20 points.
The Republican governor, whether he realizes it or not, is effectively making a Democratic argument: voters, especially in red states, may like the idea of far-right governing, but when GOP officials implement that vision in the real world, the public quickly reconsiders. Jindal was surprisingly explicit on this point: his support faltered, not because he strayed from his agenda, but specifically because he did what he set out to do.
As a 2016 pitch, his couldn’t be any less persuasive. The Louisiana Republican effectively told New Hampshire voters over the weekend that his former backers rejected his agenda back home, so now he wants to take it national.
Americans “need that kind of leadership in D.C.”? Does Jindal mean the kind of leadership opposed by southern, red-state voters?