In the days following the election I heard some muted, yet marginally optimistic talk from Democrat activists who felt that the gloom and doom predictions for Mary Landrieu in the runoff were being overstated. The logic went something along these lines: once the media fever had broken and the massive flow of national dollars dried up, people would mostly go back about their daily lives. Under these conditions, her supporters felt, Mary could get back to the retail politicking where she has always excelled. Unfortunately for them, with every poll that comes out it seems to become clear that Barack Obama is still a big old albatross hanging around her neck, and she just can’t shake him loose.
President Barack Obama may not be on Louisiana’s Senate runoff ballot, but it’s clear his widespread unpopularity in the state stands as Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s biggest hurdle to a fourth term.
Landrieu led an eight-candidate primary, but her 42 percent was only 16,000 votes ahead of Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy and far short of her 2008 totals when she won without a runoff. Exit polls explain the collapse: Landrieu got votes from 18 percent of whites, while nearly three out of four white voters said they strongly disapprove of the president.
“It’s not so much a Mary thing as it is a Democrat thing and Obama thing,” said restaurant owner Dean Gehbauer of Thibodaux.
If anything, the end of the general election may have hurt Landrieu. The public is still being flooded with advertisements reminding them of everything that’s on the line, and external Republican forces really have nothing else to occupy their time these days, so they may as well make her miserable. Cassidy is well placed for funding, while all the Democrats saying lovely things about Landrieu don’t seem to eager to flush additional millions into her special election.
Plus, it doesn’t help her case too much when her own staffers are throwing her under the bus at every turn. Her Washington chief-of-staff Don Cravins was caught on video saying that liberals had nothing to worry about. If she wins another term, she’ll be staying right in Obama’s hip pocket.
“He can’t finish his agenda, because he doesn’t have people like Mary Landrieu with him…” Cravins says. “So I’m asking you to go out and vote tomorrow for Senator Landrieu.”
“She’s been in office for eighteen years, and in the Senate, that’s what you need to get things done,” he continues, “And she will go on to vote with Barack Obama 97 percent of the time!”
I’d like to have been at the first staff meeting after that video hit the web. Landrieu must be nearly at the point where she’s going to be casting about for somebody to blame, and before much longer, something to throw. Cravins may want to practice ducking.