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What Bobby Jindal and Mitt Romney have in common

I’ve long been impressed by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and consider him a top-tier prospect for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016. But recently I noticed that Jindal’s approval number in Louisiana shows him, at this time, to be highly unpopular. For example, a March poll from Southern Media & Opinion Research put Jindal’s approval rating at 38 percent, against 60 percent disapproval.

Would this level of unpopularity, assuming it persists, injure Jindal’s prospect of being nominated for president? One would think so.

But Nate Silver suggests otherwise. He notes that Mitt Romney had similar numbers by the end of his time as governor of Massachusetts. In October 2006, a Boston Globe poll put his favorability rating at 34 percent against a 54 percent unfavorable rating.

There’s an obvious difference between Jindal and Romney, and Silver points it out: “it is much more difficult for a Republican to be popular in Massachusetts than in Louisiana.”

But, for Silver, this distinction isn’t necessarily fatal for Jindal. What matters, he says, is how GOP insiders and conservative news outlets react to Jindal’s home state problems.

I don’t how they will react. My reaction is that, although the reasons for Jindal’s unpopularity matter, the GOP should be extremely reluctant to nominate a governor who is badly under water in his own conservative state. But it’s not time to nominate anyone, so let’s wait a while and see whether Jindal remains badly under water.

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