Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Jindal May Not Win in a Walk

The Cook Political Report indicates that Kathleen Blanco - apparently realizing that she's got a steep uphill climb for re-election - will step aside for former Senator John Breaux, or another Democrat with a chance:

Breaking News: Former Democratic Sen. John Breaux is seriously considering a bid for Governor of Louisiana. John Maginnis, editor of the highly regarded Louisiana Political Fax Weekly, initially reported the news this morning, and the Cook Political Report has independently verified that it is true. Apparently Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco has privately indicated a willingness to step aside if Breaux, or possibly another Democrat, such as Rep. Charlie Melancon, would run instead.

None of this is a done deal, but Breaux is serious, and his candidacy would change the face of the race for Democrats.

This will make things a lot harder for Bobby Jindal. Based on his reputation as a conservative Democrat, and his popularity in the state, Breaux could be the favorite over Jindal. It would make it a good race, at least.

Update: Turns out this rumor is several days old. Salon has a piece up on what you might call 'the broader context.'

In this case, Thomas Schaller argues that the Bush administration's terrible response to Hurricane Katrina led to the emigration of tens of thousands of blacks, who were a critical part of the Democratic base in a competitive state. Because of the departure of these voters, Louisiana may have gone from 'purple' to red, and the state's remaining statewide Democratic officeholders are in trouble. Schaller says:

A key reason for the troubles facing Blanco and her party is the massive out-migration of New Orleans-area Democrats in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The storm, and the administration's botched handling of it, literally drove Democrats out of Louisiana. Though a perfect estimate is impossible, analysts who follow the state closely project the net decline for Democrats in New Orleans Parish to be somewhere between 30,000 and 60,000 voters. In 2002, Blanco beat Jindal by 55,000 votes statewide, but nearly all of that margin came from the city. She won Orleans Parish by 50,000 votes. "It's doubtful that there are enough Democrats left to provide the wide margin of victory in Orleans Parish that Democrats have traditionally relied upon for victory in statewide elections," says Bob Mann, who served as former Sen. Breaux's state director and, later, Blanco's communications director.

I agree that the departure of core Democratic voters is going to have a significant political effect. But as has been discussed ad nauseam, the city and state bear a large portion of the blame for the botched response to the disaster. Do we really need to rehash the pitiful response of Nagin and Blanco?

Further, at least one survey of Katrina evacuees suggests that Blanco and the state's Democrats may be better off without them in the state. Only 27 percent of those surveyed approved of Governor Blanco's performance in the crisis, and just 33 percent of Mayor Nagin's. Further, while 28 percent blamed primarily the federal response, 31 percent blamed either the city or the state - with another 22 percent saying all were equally responsible.

For a group that was supposedly very pro-Democrat to start with, these numbers are terrible. If this group was still residing in New Orleans, it doesn't sound very likely that Blanco, Landrieu, Nagin, or any other prominent Louisiana Democrat would be any better off.

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