Hey, on the plus side, she won’t have too many more of them. Mary Landrieu started the week desperate to pull off a legislative coup that would convince her increasingly hostile constituents that they need her muscle in the Senate, even though they know now that she’d be in the minority. In theory, pressing for a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline gave her a perfect opportunity to show that Landrieu could work with Republicans and Democrats to get things done — only to have her own team shaft her. Oops!
Usually when your team throws a Hail Mary pass, the football simply gets batted to the ground and the game ends.
When Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) threw one this past week in an attempt to save her political career, the other team intercepted the ball and ran it all the way back for a touchdown. …
Landrieu spent the early part of the week trying to round up the 60 votes she needed to pass a bill that would have compelled construction of the pipeline.
She got 59. Meanwhile, the GOP-led House easily passed a bill authorizing Keystone — a bill sponsored by, you guessed it, Cassidy.
As it turns out, the play was more of a Hail Mary than Landrieu admitted at the time. She insisted before the vote that she had the 60 votes needed to pass the bill, which required a supermajority because of the expedited manner in which the bill came to the floor. She actually only had 59 votes, and a list of eight members of the Democratic caucus from which to get the 60th vote, The Hill reported this morning, only to find that she had no real clout at all:
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) told reporters on Monday night that she had the 60 votes she needed to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
But secretly, she knew she was one short. …
It was a big gamble. Getting enough votes to advance Keystone would give her a victory to talk about in the run-up to her Dec. 6 runoff election against Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.). Falling short would undermine her campaign argument that she deserves reelection because of her Senate clout.
In the end, Landrieu’s “hail Mary” fell short, and not a single one of the eight Democratic senators on her list came through.
“There were eight potential Democratic ‘yeses.’ You’d think she could’ve gotten one of them,” said a Democratic senator who worked with Landrieu to advance the Keystone authorization.
This is the kind of stunt you try only if you’re certain it can succeed. Even a successful stunt vote probably would have done little for Landrieu, because Obama would have vetoed it anyway, as his remarks in the days prior to the vote clearly signaled. A veto would only have further incentivized those who are angry at Obama to turn out for the runoff, which already is going to be the big dynamic, while her advocacy for the pipeline will depress turnout among the progressives in Louisiana she needs. The spectacular flame-out Monday added incompetence to the reasons for giving Landrieu the boot, and won’t do much for her presumed comeback attempt in the 2017 gubernatorial race either.
Not that it would make much difference, as the few polls being taken show. Rasmussen offered its look at Louisiana yesterday, showing Landrieu 15 points back to Bill Cassidy with sixteen days to go:
Cassidy posts a 15-point lead – 56% to 41%- over incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu among Likely Louisiana Voters in our latest statewide telephone survey. Just three percent (3%) are undecided.
Landrieu edged Cassidy, a U.S. congressman, 42% to 41% on Election Day earlier this month, with eight candidates officially in the race. But under Louisiana’s so-called “jungle primary” rules, the contest will now be decided by a December 6 runoff because no candidate cleared the 50% mark.
Eighty-seven percent (87%) of the state’s likely voters say they are certain to vote in the runoff, and Cassidy leads 57% to 41% among these voters.
Assuming that Rasmussen has a good sample here, and it matches up with other pollsters this month, it’s not difficult to see the problem. Her favorables are under water at 43/55, which is almost the state of the race. Cassidy’s favorability rating, on the other hand, is the mirror image at 55/43. Cassidy has a small lead among women at 50/48, leads independents by seven, and even gets 21% of Democrats while keeping 92% of Republicans. Landrieu does have a 14-point lead among younger voters, but those also tend to have the worst turnout special elections. Meanwhile, Obama’s approval rating is 40/58, higher than other pollsters have shown in Louisiana, but 52% of the sample strongly disapproves of his job performance.
Earlier this week, the GOP brought out the Jonathan Gruber attack, which Democrats had better prepare to see in 2016 as well. The pro-life group Women Speak Out PAC followed up with this spot, which tells a moving story to highlight Landrieu’s support for late-term abortion:
“Too extreme for Louisiana.” Too ineffective, too much in Barack Obama’s pocket, etc. It’s going to be a long worst week in Washington for Landrieu, but as I noted at first, at least she won’t have too many more of them.