Why Jindal Lost

I haven’t been following the election in Louisiana in which Democrat Kathleen Blanco beat Republican Bobby Jindal by a comfortable margin, but Rod Dreher has been, and he has an interesting campaign post-mortem. Blanco ran a series of blistering attack ads late in the campaign that Jindal failed to address. One of the most important rules of politics is that you never let your opponent get in a shot. You either respond and deflect or fire back. Jindal tried to deflect, but he didn’t have his response match Blanco’s. That’s a classic mistake, and it may have done enough to swing the election to Blanco.

It’s a setback for the GOP, but a very minor one. The South is now the Solid South again – but solidly Republican. The GOP now has a strong base of support that will allow Bush to go on the offensive elsewhere, meaning that while the Democrats may be crowing about this election, it may be a Pyhrric victory in the end.

13 thoughts on “Why Jindal Lost

  1. The top of your post is dead-on: if you’re not on offense, you’re on defense. The bottom part, though, is tripe. The GOP just showed its weakness in the South, having lost all but one of the LA statewide offices and having failed to unseat Landrieu. This is far from a blessing–that’s just wishful thinking. Compare what the GOP would have had if Jindal had won to what they have now, assuming that you’re right (you’re not) about this being a blessing in disguise for them. The GOP could have had a moderate, nonwhite, young political whiz kid to move through the ranks, highlight the inclusive side of Republican politics and serve as an example of how true conservative values transcend race. Now, they’ve lost the image, they’ve (temporarily, I suspect) lost the chance to put Jindal into elected office and build his resume, they’ve lost the ability to claim that they are a race-neutral party (look, Jindal is about as good a Party boy as any in the nation, yet he polls 48% statewide and only 60% of white males, when 2/3 of white males usually have to back the Republican in the South to assure victory), and, lest we forget, they’ve lost the governorship of the very Southern state of Louisiana.

    But hey, now the GOP is free to put their resources somewhere else, at least until the Dem nominee gets within ten points of Bush in LA.

    No, Jay, they lost an important race, just as the Dems lost two last week. More importantly, they’ve lost the Louisiana State Republican Party as an ally, since it just demonstrated again its inability to come through in the clinch for statewide races.

  2. Since the last state election in Louisiana was nearly a complete sweep for Democrats (the one before the run-off), I expect Bush has something to worry about. This was about a lot more than race or spending.

    He might have won with 53%, but what I hear from people here is not anything that bodes well for Bush, especially since a lot of people who didn’t bother to vote in 2000 are planning to vote in 2004. His popularity is guaged with so-called “likely voters”. Best not to discount those “unlikely” voters just yet.

  3. Jay, 53% is hardly something to be confident about when your party has been losing statewide races there, and when Bush campaigned on a much more moderate stance than he’s adopted as President. And I think you know that. You went looking for a silver lining, but that wasn’t it. The silver lining for Republicans is that Jindal is an instant candidate for other (re: national) offices, and will probably win one handily next time around. Then, instead of an Indian-American governor in a mostly ignored state with little national attention for the next 4 years, you have the possibility of another JC Watts–a national figure that highlights the advances of the Republican party away from Anglo-Saxon dominance and towards nonracial politics (not that this is the case, merely the image).

  4. The dynamics of the Louisiana race are stunning. Here is a state where 12 years ago, the former Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan was the GOP nominee for Governor. Even then, Louisiana wasn’t nearly as conservative as most of its cousins in Dixie. Fast forward to 2003 and 60% of the state’s whites vote for a candidate of color, while 91% of blacks vote for the white candidate whose values are closer to their own. There are now two women serving in very high-profile positions in Louisiana. The state is perhaps the only place in the South that can legitimately proclaim itself “the new South” and actually be proud of it.

    As for the political ramifactions, JR is right that Jindal’s loss is a blow to the GOP’s image machine, which likes to manufacture JC Watts-like figures believing that people of color will view ideas that threaten their livelihoods as being less dangerous if spoken by another person of color. Every attempt that has been made so far to the votes of people of color with a spokesmen who “looks like them”, but preaches values in conflict with 95% of the targeted audience, has failed, but they clearly have no plans to quit trying. My guess is that Jindal will be a player in the future of Louisiana politics, however, probably in the US House, or even Senate if he’s brave enough to run up against Breaux.

    Louisiana’s 53 percent showing for Bush in the presidential election is hardly remarkable, particularly with Louisiana’s ties to the oil industry that should have made the state Bush’s best performer in all of Dixie. The reality is that Clinton beat Bush-41 in Louisiana by six percentage points in 1992, and beat Dole by more than 12 points in 1996. In fact, Louisiana’s winning percentage for Clinton in 1996 was only slightly less dominating than in Minnesota, and that was the year Clinton won 76 of 87 Minnesota counties. The GOP’s long string of defeats in the state since then indicates that Louisiana is not Georgia or Mississippi, and is certainly in play for 2004.

    If I were the Democrats, I would heed the advice that they need to tap into the South to win in 2004, but I would centrallize my efforts in three states. Florida, of course, needs to be the Dems top priority, but the rest of their energy needs to be funneled into Dixie’s two most winnable states, Louisiana and Arkansas. The Dems could easily win either. Perhaps a shell of an operation should be concentrated on remotely winnable Tennessee and South Carolina, but the rest of the South is a vast wasteland for the Dems that can and should be avoided.

  5. Mark,

    Here is a state where 12 years ago, the former Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan was the GOP nominee for Governor.

    Who’s the only “ex”-KKK member in the Senate today?

  6. And Stan LS presents another straw man! The real question, Stan, is who currently gets the Klan’s vote?

    Actually, the REAL question is why race matters in the first place. I don’t get it. I’m, sure Stan has a remarkable insight that happens to come in the form of either a rant or a derisive comment with no substance, so let’s listen in!

  7. The real question, Stan, is who currently gets the Klan’s vote?


    Actually, the REAL question is why race matters in the first place. I don’t get it.

    Which party sucks up to the NAACP?

  8. Actually, the REAL question is why race matters in the first place. I don’t get it.

    There’s the $64,000 question.

    The best answer I can give after slogging through Cornel West’s horrendous “Race Matters” is that there are people on both sides who profit from racial acrimony. The Jesse Jacksons of the world directly profit from the notion that African Americans can’t get along without them. The Democaratic Party has also essentially created a political plantation for minorities in which votes are traded for welfare benefits.

    If only more leaders would follow the credo of Dr. King and start judging people by the content of their characters rather than the color of her skin race relations in this country would be far less acrimonious.

  9. I always make a conscious effort to keep race out of political discussions as often as possible because no other issue can cheapen or derail an intelligent debate faster than an injection of race-based platitudes. However, race is a serious issue that is likely to obstruct human relations for as long as the species exists….and avoidance of the issue can only be tolerated to a certain extent before one’s conscience propels them to respond to blatant racist tripe such as the clueless and bigoted blather you just posted.

    The zeal to disparage the black population’s association with the Democratic party inevitably and immediately yields the “welfare mama” stereotype, and you take the rhetoric to despicable lows with a comparison of providing a safety net to slavery. Let’s speculate for a moment. There are 280 million Americans (12.5% of whom are black) and roughly 6 million welfare recipients (most of whom are either mentally ill or borderline retarded, and certainly not employable outside of a highly controlled setting). Even if every one of the welfare recipients in America were black (which is clearly not the case), that’s only about 17% of black Americans dependent on welfare. Yet you condescendingly brand the other 83% (or more) of black Americans as pigs feeding from the government trough who must stay loyal to their Democratic party masters for more handouts. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why more blacks aren’t drawn to the politics of people like yourself! It’s really a mystery!

    But to step aside from those noxious statements and focus on the main point of your cluelessly privileged rant, it surely must be hard for a person of color to take seriously a national call to arms to “start judging people by the content of their characters rather than the color of their skin” from the mouth of a recent Gustavus graduate with his nose in the air. Even without knowing the specifics of your dangerous political philosophies that would undermine the standard of living of their families, listening to a white male yuppie-in-the-making reduce centuries of bitter struggles on matters of race to a solution that could fit on a fortune cookie is certain to induce cringes, or even anger, among people who experience direct and indirect consequences of institutionalized racism every day.

    This argument could go on all night, because anytime conservatives attempt to speculate on racial matters, even with a couple short paragraphs as you did, a non-conservative can often writing an encyclopedia worth of counterarguments shredding their predictably silly and insulting points. Suffice it to say….keep doing what you’re doing if you want to ensure permanent 90% allegiance by blacks to the Democratic Party. People like you are better allies to the Democrats’ black constituency base than Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton could ever dream of being.

  10. For the record, I think Mark was posting to the original blog entry and not the last Jay Reding comment.

    And I happen to agree with Jay’s last post, though I would like to point out that my agreement constitutes a concurring, but separate, opinion. I don’t know how Jay arrived at his conclusions, nor what specifically he means with some of his terminology.

  11. And Stan LS, to answer your qusetions,

    1.) David Duke didn’t run in a Democratic primary.

    2.) The NAACP is an advocay group: why shouldn’t civil society be included in drafting and negotiating policy? And which Party panders to the C of CC?

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