Poll Worship & The Louisiana Silly Season

I hate articles about polls. There’s way too much poll worship in the world and when the polls are wrong, as they were in the U.K. general election, people freak out. It’s part and parcel of worshiping a false deity.

Poll worship is wreaking havoc on national politics right now with the candidate trying to be the first insult comedian elected President leading the GOP field. The polls also show a backbench Independent Senator from Vermont doing surprisingly well in the politically quirky Granite State. All you need to know about that is that New Englanders often win that primary *and* that they love insurgents: Pat Buchanan stunned Poppy Bush by getting 37% of the vote in 1992. I guess Bush should have been more honest about being a bona fide Yankee and invited everyone in New Hampshire up to Kennebunkport for a ride in his power boat. They love retail politics in that state, which is one reason the insult comedian will fade there unless he meets every single Republican voter. It’s what they expect.

The point of the previous paragraph is that we’re in the political silly season and it’s too early to put much stock in polling data from any organization or in any state. New Hampshire doesn’t vote until 2/9/16 and anything could happen including the alien invasion that occured in the fine SyFy teevee show, Defiance. That could, in turn, lead to gruff, crooked outsider Datak Tarr winning New Hampshire. I told you it was the silly season…

Meanwhile in the Gret Stet of Louisiana, we’re having an uncharacteristically boring Gubernatorial (hereinafter Goober) campaign. One of Jindal’s many unfortunate legacies is the dulling down of Louisiana politics. It’s not as bad as what he did to health care or education but his two terms have, at least temporarily, drained the life out of our politics. The current race for Governor is thus far lacking in drama, intrigue, and seasoning, to use a food metaphor.

That brings me back full circle to the post title. It shouldn’t be our silly season since election day is Saturday 10/24, but we’re busy debating a recent poll showing the lone Democrat in the race, John Bel Edwards, in first place with 30% of the vote followed by Gopers Bitter Vitter and Public Service Commissioner/former PBJ aide Scott Angelle at tied 21%. That’s right, we’re talking about a fucking poll. Sigh.

It’s a banal and sterile argument because 30-35% is more likely than not the dull Blue Dog State Rep’s ceiling. Additionally, Vitter hasn’t spent much money on the race as of yet and has nearly $10 million in his coffers. That hasn’t stopped Team Vitter from trying to discredit pollster Verne Kennedy. It’s what they do:

… the Kennedy poll showed Vitter losing support among several of his core constituencies since May. (Kennedy polled the Louisiana electorate in May, June and July.) The senator wasted no time trying to shoot the messenger.

Kyle Ruckert, campaign manager for Vitter, sent an email blast accusing Kennedy of “fantasy-land polling.” He cited several alleged instances of Kennedy’s polls being widely off the mark, including Vitter’s 2010 Senate primary against former state Supreme Court Justice Chet Traylor. Vitter won that primary with 88 percent of the GOP vote.

Ruckert’s email claims that Kennedy’s poll in that race had the two men “almost even” with Vitter leading 46-34 percent. (That’s not “almost even” — not even with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent — but politics is the mother of hyperbole.) “Kennedy’s poll was wrong by more than 40 points,” Ruckert wrote. At the end of his email, he concluded, “it’s silly season, and desperate candidates try desperate things.”

Kennedy, who is not polling for any gubernatorial candidate, says his two polls in Vitter’s 2010 primary election did not come close to the results cited by Ruckert’s email. Kennedy sent me a copy of an email he sent to Ruckert citing the actual results of his surveys. Far from showing Vitter’s primary contest close, Kennedy’s polls showed Vitter ahead by huge margins. In June 2009 (a year before the primary), Kennedy’s poll had Vitter leading Traylor 54-15 percent. In August 2010, Kennedy’s poll showed Vitter with an even bigger lead of 66-14 percent.

Kennedy called the Vitter camp’s response to his latest survey in the governor’s race “foolishness.”

“I asked Kyle Ruckert to share his sources, because I can’t find anything even close to what they’re saying,” Kennedy said. “I don’t expect them to send it to me.”

One would have thought that the Vitterites would blame Obama for their loss in support. It’s what Diaper Dave usually does and the blame Obama approach helped elect his lackey Double Bill Cassidy to the Senate last year. Instead, he’s blaming a respected pollster who often works for business groups. In short, it ain’t no librul conspiracy.

This whole mishigas is *another* reason I hate stories about polls. The only reason the lackluster Edwards is in the lead in Kennedy’s poll is the pollster’s custom of automatically giving any Democrat 90% of the African-American vote. He may be the leader on paper but he’s not the frontrunner: the odds are long against his prevailing in a run-off against ANY Republican.

In case you were wondering, John Bel Edwards is NOT related to former Governor Edwin and has none of Le Guv’s panache and style. He’s also more conservative than the last 2 Democrats to win major statewide office, which is conservative indeed. He’s very much a part of the Gret Stet good ole boys club, his brother is the current Sheriff of Tangiapahoa Parish as was his father before him. The father was, however, a staunch EWE ally. None of the EWE charisma rubbed off on JBE: his nickname among internet smart asses is Gomer. That’s right, Gomer for Goober. I feel another sigh coming on, y’all.

I considered apologizing for discussing polls in a post expressing dislike for articles about polls but decided not to. It would be akin to not discussing Bobby Jindal in an article about Louisiana politics. I might rather not think about how he fucked the Gret Stet over but his shadow looms heavily over the Goober race. In fact, the one good thing I can say about Gomer is that he has been very critical of the PBJ record throughout the latter’s second term. It’s not his fault that fear and loathing of a black President turned a purple state deep red. I seem to have crossed over the Bridge Of Sighs

I’m reluctant to predict the outcome of the not so great Gret Stet goober race. I’m not sure who the GOPer will be right now but I still think Vitter will rally his base of bigots, bible bangers, and assholes and make the run-off against the hapless Gomer. Whatever happens, the Blue Dog is gonna be left for roadkill in the run-off.