There are only two ways to describe political polls if you are a candidate who turns up in one.
If the poll favors the candidate, it’s a trend—sometimes a significant trend. If not, the numbers are meaningless.
But for pure spin, there seems to be no one who can top Gov. Bobby Jindal and his treatment of the latest numbers is merely another illustration of his ability to taint, distort, twist and skew data to his political advantage.
Harsh words? Of course, but sadly accurate. We have seen over and over his willingness to tout to the point of ad nauseam the latest survey that shows Louisiana with a favorable business climate or some such statistic that, taken as a stand-alone point, would favor his administration. Disregarded, ignored and unpublicized are other, more credible studies that show Louisiana wallowing in obesity and poverty, its citizens existing in an environmental morass and in a state with one of the highest percentages of residents without health insurance.
We have seen him pop up immediately at the site of a natural crisis of one of someone else’s making, as with the BP spill or the recent derailment in Lawtell in St. Landry Parish. Yet, it literally took months and a chorus of demands from area residents to convince him to finally visit that ever-expanding sinkhole near the Assumption Parish community of Bayou Corne, a crisis precipitated in part by permits issued by his own Department of Natural Resources.
But now we have two separate political polls—both by political conservative organizations—that show vastly different results. One shows his approval rating hovering around 50 percent while the other has him at an abysmal 35 percent—one of the lowest rankings of any governor in the history of Louisiana.
Others, it turns out, have also written about the conflicting polls. http://www.bayoubuzz.com/buzz/item/521755-jindal-poll-pipeline-is-louisiana-governor-at-50-or-35-percent
So which poll does he choose to hype? Silly question. Of course, he trots out the one reflecting a 50 percent approval rating, boasting of the impressive 12-point increase from an April poll. Surely, the rebound must reflect strong public support for his policies in education reform, budget slashing, hospital privatization, health care and massive employee layoffs. Right?
Not so fast.
Never mentioned (by the Jindal folks, anyway) is the fact that the 50 percent approval rating was the result of a poll by OnMesssage of Alexandria, VA.
OnMessage. Sound familiar? It should. It was OnMessage that hired one Timmy Teepell to head up its Southern operations in Baton Rouge—except there was never a Baton Rouge address or telephone number in Baton Rouge for the company and Teepell’s Jeep has remains parked in the back lot of the State Capitol since his hiring.
Despite recent rumors of OnMessage’s dissatisfaction with Teepell’s failure to attract clients for the political consulting firm, there is the matter of some $1.2 million that can’t be ignored when considering those rosy OnMessage poll results.
That’s the amount that Jindal’s Believe in Louisiana non-profit, tax-exempt propaganda machine paid OnMessage through last September. That figure included $456,551 paid in March of 2012, ostensibly for polling and research.
It’s enough to make one wonder how much Jindal (or Believe in Louisiana) paid OnMessage for the latest good news.
If one knew no better, it would appear a question of professional honor when OnMessage partner Curt Anderson challenged last April’s poll by Bernie Pinsonat which showed Jindal’s approval rate at 37 percent.
But Pinsonat was quick to point out the close relationship. “He (Anderson) works for Jindal. I do not. I would expect him to defend his client,” he said.
OnMessage also seemed to bolster Jindal’s rejection of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The OnMessage poll showed that 62 percent opposed Obamacare.
The numbers should come as no surprise considering that more than 86 percent of those polled have health insurance.
Yet, at 17.8 percent, Louisiana has the second highest percentage of citizens with no health insurance. It would have been interesting to see the poll results had a greater number of non-insured residents been included in the sampling. But isn’t it interesting that even with 86 percent of those polled having health insurance, only 62 percent opposed Obamacare?
Without cozying up to any candidate, suffice it to say we all know polls can be constructed as to produce almost any desired results. A recent example is an automated, or robocall poll with questions so obviously couched to favor Congressman Bill Cassidy over incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu as to be laughable. I received one of the poll’s calls and while I usually hang up, for some reason I stayed on the line and completed the poll.
Given the manner in which the questions were phrased, it would have been difficult for the most die-hard, Yellow Dog Democrat not to have bared his fangs at Landrieu. So, it was no surprise two days later when the poll results tilted in favor of Cassidy.
Still, it is worth noting that last April Pinsonat’s poll, commissioned by conservative Baton Rouge businessman Lane Grigsby, showed Jindal trailing Obama by five points—in Louisiana.
Even more interesting is another poll last week, by Harper Polling for Conservative Intel (that’s the one that has Jindal at a 35 percent approval rating) said that Jindal, occasionally mentioned (but often by the day) as a 2016 presidential contender, “has some work to do back home first.”
That poll, in a hypothetical 2016 presidential matchup, has Hillary Clinton beating Jindal by 44 to 42 percent—again, in Louisiana.
Losing to both Obama and Clinton on his home turf should be humiliating to Jindal but because has insulated himself in some sort of impenetrable buffer that apparently shields him from bad news, he bravely soldiers on, grabbing any and every opportunity to speak to conservative groups outside (but never in) Louisiana.
Still, it is interesting to read some of the comments at the bottom of online news stories about the Boy Blunder:
- His political star is falling…handicapped by an intellectual base little different from that of the John Birch Society of the 1950s and ‘60s.
- It is hard to see any of the current GOP presidential contenders righting the GOP ship when none of the contenders have both oars in the water.
- He is a member of the stupid party.
- But he’s a legend in his own mind.
- He’s the only one who thinks he’s all that.
- Poor Piyush! Like most TeaPots and GOPers, the more their constituents get to know them, the more their constituents despise them.
- Look at his state; do you want that for your state?