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Louisiana governorship race baffles pollsters

New York Bureau | November 12, 2003 08:17 IST

With the November 15 run off between Republican Piyush 'Bobby' Jindal and Democrat Kathleen Blanco, for the post of Louisiana governor, rapidly approaching, pollsters find themselves baffled by a race too close to call.

Each day brings fresh polls, fresh figures, fresh predictions and prognostications. Today's first, released by the Southeastern Louisiana University, showed Blanco fractionally ahead; the statewide poll put Blanco at 41.4 per cent to Jindal's 40.1 per cent; a further 18.5 per cent remaining firmly on the fence.

Jindal for Governor: The Complete Coverage

The pollsters did their thing with the 'undecideds', to come up with the revised figures of 45.1 for Blanco against 42.9 per cent for Jindal.

Later in the day, came the second poll. This one, by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc, showed Jindal ahead by a good five per cent, 48-43. Further, the story, in The Washington Times -- a paper known for its conservative leanings -- makes it clear that the five per cent lead is outside of the four per cent margin of error.

Way things are, it is nearing time for a poll to figure out which pollster to believe; the one commonality that has emerged from the plethora of polls conducted ever since Jindal and Blanco won, in October, the right to contest the run off against each other, is that the race is way too close to call.

Political consultant Roy Fletcher has no such problems; he says Blanco is fighting a lost cause; says, further, that Blanco shot herself in the foot with a series of political mistakes.

Speaking to reporters in Baton Rouge, Fletcher says Blanco failed to mobilise core Democratic supporters, especially blacks; failed to draw sharp distinctions between herself and Jindal; failed to enunciate a clear message. Blanco, Fletcher says, had to come up with the kind of message that turns on the black voters, instead of going 'me too, me too'.

Africana.com, meanwhile, has derided Jindal for ignoring the race factor in a state such as Louisiana. Boston-based writer Siddharth Mitter titles his piece 'Brown Skin Bubba'; he accuses Jindal of pandering to the same voter base that nearly elected the Ku Klux Klan's erstwhile grand dragon David Duke in 1991.

Jindal, though, has produced his own surprises. For instance, his campaign bagged the endorsement of Ray Nagin, November 3.

Nagin is the mayor of New Orleans. He is, further, a Democrat. He is, equally to the point, black.

Go figure.

So why would a black Democrat back Republican Jindal? Why are Democrats increasingly showing signs of climbing on the Bobby bandwagon? Eric Gremillion comes up with an intelligent analyses of why Louisiana Democrats are changing their minds about Jindal.

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