A poll was released in Louisiana about a month ago that showed President Obama’s approval rating in the Pelican State is down to 42%. It didn’t come as too big of a surprise, of course – Louisiana is a deep-red state in the Deep South, and the president lost his re-election bid here by 17 points.
What was surprising, though, was that the same poll found that Obama was four points more popular in Louisiana than Gov. Bobby Jindal (R). Indeed, by some measures, Jindal is the single least popular governor in the United States.
With such ignominy in mind, one might assume the far-right governor would want to run away. Jindal, however, has decided to run for president – yes, of the United States. MSNBC’s Jane C. Timm reported this morning:
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is expected to declare his candidacy for president here on Wednesday, which would make him the 13th Republican to get into the race, after years of injecting himself into the national conversation on everything from terrorism in the Middle East to education.Speaking from Kenner, in the Louisiana district that first elected Jindal to Congress in 2004, Jindal is set to pitch himself as the candidate who can offer a viable Republican alternative to everything from Common Core to Obamacare.
It’s safe to say Jindal, who’s wrapping up his second term this year, faces incredibly long, Pataki-like odds of success. Nearly all recent polling shows the Louisianan generating between 0% and 1% support, putting him roughly last in a crowded GOP field, and effectively guaranteeing that he will not participate in the upcoming Republican primary debates.
And to a very real extent, this is a rare example of political meritocracy working effectively. Candidates for national office aren’t supposed to parlay failure into promotions.
I’ve kept an eye on Jindal for a long while, marveling at his bizarre approach to governing, but I still believe the best summary of the governor’s troubles came just a few months ago.
Campaigning in April in New Hampshire, Jindal offered an amazing explanation for his lack of popularity in his home state.
“[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.”
As we talked about at the time, Jindal has an unintentionally amusing take on his own political story. 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 ideologue.
And according to Jindal, people hated it. According to his own version of events, his constituents – residents of a ruby-red state – saw their governor implement his vision, causing Jindal’s public support to drop “at least” 15 to 20 points.
The people of Louisiana got a chance to see Jindal govern up close, and they concluded that he’s simply awful.
“We need that kind of leadership in D.C.”?
Writing at the American Conservative in February, Rod Dreher reflected a bit on Jindal’s national ambitions. “I keep telling my friends in the national media that if you think Bobby Jindal has a chance in hell of becoming president, send a reporter down to spend a few days in Louisiana, seeing what condition he’s leaving his state in,” Dreher said.
There are plenty of other reasons to question Jindal’s candidacy on the merits – his brazen opportunism, his unprincipled flip-flops, his ugly partisanship, his ridiculous policy positions (“no-go zones” and the like), his needlessly divisive approaches to every culture-war fight he could pick – but it’s probably fair to say these issues won’t matter.
His failed gubernatorial tenure effectively ends the conversation about his national ambitions.