Jindal can't afford complacency

Michael Tortorich
Michael Tortorich is a reporter for The Gonzales Weekly Citizen. He can be reached at reporter1 @

In a time when Gov. Bobby Jindal’s political aspirations seem set on the national stage, opinion surveys like the one that’s making headlines this week take on added interest in Louisiana and around the country.

The survey found that 41 percent rated Jindal’s job performance as “good,” while another 26 percent said he has done an “excellent” job. Thirty percent of voters gave him a negative review. About 3 percent refused to answer or didn’t have an opinion.

The governor’s approval rating was 77 percent last year, with 7 percent negatives.

The poll, developed and conducted by Southern Media & Opinion Research, included telephone interviews with 600 randomly selected Louisiana voters from April 13-16. The overall margin of error was 4 percentage points.

The poll’s findings suggest that Jindal remains popular with many Louisiana voters. Apparently he hasn’t tarnished his reputation greatly by criss-crossing the United States for fundraising dates and personal trips. In doing so, he’s caught quite a bit of flack because every move he makes costs taxpayers since Louisiana State Police provide the governor protection.

Two-thirds of those polled agreed that Jindal should stay in the state and work on Louisiana’s problems. Less than a quarter agreed that the governor’s frequent out-of-state excursions are good for the state’s image.

Pollsters point to Jindal’s status as a Republican answer to President Barack Obama as a possibility for the lost support.

The 37-year-old governor has consistently downplayed his rising star status in the party nationally, and has refused to say whether he will run for any national office in 2012.

With Obama just over 100 days into his term, there’s still a long way to go before election campaigns get going. Perhaps politicians with sights on Obama’s gig are playing close to the vest this far out from election day. As columnist Clancy DuBos cleverly wrote, “I find it amusing that so many people still ask, ‘Is Bobby Jindal running for president?’ as if there’s some doubt about the answer.”

Jindal does have a few GOP heavy hitters in which to contend, such as usual suspects Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, to name a few.

Jindal hasn’t exactly been a shrinking violet while in office. For instance, he has a book in the works on his life and policy stances, practically a pre-requisite for the presidency.

He also has stayed in step with fellow Republicans on the issues. Jindal has expressed concern over spending out of Washington, and he supported the “tea party” tax protests on April 15. He boldly rejected Louisiana’s stimulus money from the $787 billion package.

He also ruffled feathers when the chopping block came out for education, healthcare and the arts in Louisiana. Now that the state legislature is in session, we can expect to hear a lot more about pinching pennies due to the budget crunch.

Even if Jindal does intend on running for president in the future, he has obstacles in front of him in his day job as governor. Impress us here by improving the state, and citizens around the nation will sit up and take notice.