As has been written before, it's odd how little suspense there is regarding the three governor races happening this year in Mississippi, Kentucky and Louisiana. The first contest of the three, Louisiana, is taking place tomorrow and probably has the most suspense of any of them. While there's no doubt who will come in first tomorrow -- Republican Congressman Bobby Jindal's first place finish among a 13-candidate field is a foregone conclusion -- the question is will he come in above the magic 50% mark and thus avoid a run-off on November 17.
Recent polling shows it's a close call. In two polls taken early this month, Jindal gets 46% and 50% of the vote. Of course, if there is a run-off in November, Jindal will go up against tomorrow's second place finisher, who, at this point, looks likely to be Democratic State Sen. Walter Boasso or New Orleans area businessman, independent, John Georges, who are tied in both polls at around 10%. Boasso, a recent convert to the Demcoratic Party, has clearly not emerged as a consensus alternative to Jindal.
So what are the odds that Jindal will avoid a run-off? First Read reports that Charlie Cook thinks it's a 50-50 proposition.
Louisiana native Charlie Cook says it's 50%-50% whether he breaks that threshold. And if he does, Cook cautions against reading too much into that, especially when it comes to the Democrats' statewide prospects after the exodus Katrina produced. Still, if Jindal does top 50%, many folks (particularly those Republicans interested in targeting Mary Landrieu in 2008) will examine those Katrina-ravaged New Orleans precincts to see just how down the Democratic base vote was.
Stuart Rothenberg on the other hand thinks Jindal has gained momentum over the past week and is more likely than not to crack the 50% mark.
It ain't over til it's over, but Republican Bobby Jindal now appears likely to get at least 50% of the votes cast in Saturday's Louisiana gubernatorial election. [...]
...private polling suggests that Jindal has been improving his standing over the past week, and the Republican's get-out-the-vote operation appears to be a considerable additional advantage for him.
While there has been little coverage of this race on the national blogs, The Daily Kingfish out of Louisiana is doing what it can to make sure there's a runoff. See yesterday's post, which criticizes Jindal for being MIA on the SCHIP override vote despite having promised to "be there" to vote Yes (he was absent for the original vote as well.) Jindal has actually been very supportive of SCHIP and has condemned Bush's veto openly, making it all the more difficult to use this issue against him, although Jindal's shifting excuses for missing yesterday's vote makes him seem cold and calculating and, as The Daily Kingfish puts it:
Boasso has made hay of the fact that "Bobby" is a big brain with no heart. This was the EASIEST way for him to refute those allegations ... and he just PROVED IT!
"Bobby" really has no heart, Louisiana. Are you sure you want him in the Governor's chair?
One thing's for sure, if Jindal does break the 50% barrier in tomorrow's election the GOP will be sending out missives claiming the renewed vitality of the Republican Party. Rothenberg gives a preview of what we can expect to hear:
Coming on the heels on Jim Ogonowski's unexpectedly strong showing in the Massachusetts 5 special election, a clear-cut Jindal win would allow Republicans to press their case that the political environment is not as bad as it was for them.
A November run-off may just be a formality, putting off what appears to be Jindal's inevitable gubernatorial victory, but just the image of smug Republicans celebrating Jindal's outright win tomorrow is reason enough to hope Jindal misses the mark.
Make sure to call family and friends in Louisiana to get out to vote tomorrow.