Louisiana voters are finally getting enough of our traveling governor's absentee approach to leadership. That's the only logical conclusion to be gleaned from the latest statewide poll by Southern Media and Opinion Research (SMOR), an independent Baton Rouge-based firm that released new numbers on Jindal last week.
According to SMOR, Jindal's approval rating is 55 percent — a 13-point drop from nearly 68 percent in April 2009. Meanwhile, Jindal's disapproval rating is up to 43 percent from just 30 percent in the spring 2009 survey. That's a total "swing" of 26 percentage points against Jindal in the past 19 months.
The SMOR poll is based on telephone interviews from Nov. 15-17, conducted with 600 randomly selected Louisiana voters. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 4 percentage points.
Here's a closer look at Jindal's numbers going back to April 2009, based on other SMOR surveys:
• Fall 2010 — 55 percent approval, 43 percent disapproval.
• Spring 2010 — 61 percent approval, 37 percent disapproval.
• Fall 2009 — 64 percent approval, 33 percent disapproval.
• Spring 2009 — 68 percent approval, 30 percent disapproval.
According to SMOR, the biggest decline in Jindal's ratings came in the past six months — since he released his book, Leadership and Crisis, and after his many appearances on network television during the BP oil disaster. Jindal's approval rating fell six points since April, and his unfavorable numbers rose six points during that period. That 12-point swing accounts for nearly half his total decline since April 2009.
"At this point in time, with all the problems Louisiana is facing, for him to be spending time on a book tour just doesn't sit well with voters," says SMOR's Bernie Pinsonat. "The poll shows that 39 percent of likely voters think things in Louisiana are getting worse, whereas only 19 percent say things are getting better.
"There's a disconnect," Pinsonat continues. "It's not the rosy picture that Jindal's painting of Louisiana. ... I'm not saying he won't be re-elected, but this definitely should be a wake-up call for him."
The governor faces re-election next October, which is just 10 months away. When asked, 39 percent of respondents said they would "definitely" vote to re-elect Jindal; 23 percent said they would consider someone else. Another 35 percent said they would "definitely vote for someone else," and only 3 percent didn't know or wouldn't respond.
Jindal gave a cursory "What, me worry?" response when asked about his sliding poll numbers, but with less than a year to go, he's got almost as many voters dead set against him as he has in his corner. Jindal may not be worried, but potential challengers should feel encouraged.
The good news for Jindal is the current (and ongoing) disarray in the state Democratic Party and Louisiana's continuing shift to the right. He also has plenty of time to boost his numbers. If he doesn't, he could be vulnerable to a moderate Republican challenger — or even a conservative one who pledges to stay home and lead.
As for whether the numbers are a wake-up call, Jindal will be jetting off to New York City for yet another fundraiser on Friday, Dec. 10. This one invites donors to join "Bobby's Club" for $5,000 to $25,000 a person. Ponying up that much will get you a seat at a 45-minute "roundtable discussion" with Jindal at the tony Union League Club of New York, located in the heart of Manhattan.
For now, anteing up wads of cash is about the only way to catch up with Bobby Jindal.