Louisianans Think Bush Handled Katrina Better Than Obama Is Handling Oil Spill

Barack Obama isn’t exactly a popular person in Louisiana at the moment:

Our new Louisiana poll has a lot of data points to show how unhappy voters in the state are with Barack Obama’s handling of the oil spill but one perhaps sums it up better than anything else- a majority of voters there think George W. Bush did a better job with Katrina than Obama’s done dealing with the spill.

50% of voters in the state, even including 31% of Democrats, give Bush higher marks on that question compared to 35% who pick Obama.

Overall only 32% of Louisianans approve of how Obama has handled the spill to 62% who disapprove. 34% of those polled say they approved of how Bush dealt with Katrina to 58% who disapproved.

Not surprisingly, a state in which the oil industry is a major source of jobs remains supportive of offshore drilling despite the accident:

One thing the oil spill has not done is created a spike of opposition to offshore drilling in Louisiana. 77% of voters still support it with only 12% against. Only 31% say the spill has made them less inclined to be in favor of drilling while 42% say it hasn’t made a difference to them and 28% say they’re now stronger in their support.

The one person who’s seeing a political upside from this whole mess is Louisiana’s Governor Bobby Jindal:

63% of voters approve of the job he’s doing, the best PPP has found for any Senator or Governor so far in 2010. There’s an even higher level of support, at 65%, for how he’s handled the aftermath of the spill.

That, I think, is a reflection of the fact that Jindal has been on top of the crisis from the first day, even more than the President one might say.

To be fair, Louisiana has never exactly been Obama country. In the 2008 election, Obama lost the state by more than 400,000 votes in what was otherwise a good year for Democrats nationwide. One would expect that public opinion about the spill is similar in states like Mississippi and Alabama, both also states that Obama lost by wide margins in 2008. Of far more interest in terms of the political impact of the oil spill is Florida, which Obama won by roughly 200,000 votes in 2008. If the oil slicks continue to spread, and start washing up on the shores of Florida, the President could find himself losing ground in a state that has proven crucial in the last several Presidential elections.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2010, Environment, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. PD Shaw says:

    I think Louisians are very upset about the moratorium on deep water oil drilling. You take away tourism, fishing and oil, there’s not a lot left for Southern Louisiana during a recession. From Reuters:

    “Louisiana paints a bleak picture, predicting 6,000 people could lose jobs in the early weeks of the ban and 10,000 jobs could be lost within a few months. If rigs leave the region, job losses could jump to 20,000 in 18 months, it said.”

  2. PD Shaw says:

    And I think the Panhandle Floridians are not happy with the government preventing barriers and blockades into the inland bays (or without further studies while oil penetrates them). The Panhandle probably didn’t vote for Obama either though.

  3. PD Shaw says:

    These are the kind of stories that are being told along the Gulf coast. Corps of Engineers orders removal of booms to protect inland bays for want of permit. Permit application sent in. Corps of Engineers not acting quickly enough and seems more interested in protected navigation than responding to the oil threat. So, local community votes to disobey federal law:

    “Okaloosa County isn’t taking oil spill orders any more.

    County commissioners voted unanimously to give their emergency management team the power to take whatever action it deems necessary to prevent oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill from entering Choctawhatchee Bay through the East Pass.

    That means the team, led by Public Safety Director Dino Villani, can take whatever action it sees fit to protect the pass without having its plans approved by state or federal authorities.

    Commission chairman Wayne Harris said he and his fellow commissioners made their unanimous decision knowing full well they could be prosecuted for it.”


    A similar story in Magnolia Springs, Alabama from the Christian Science Monitor “How an Alabama fire chief risked jail to save town from Gulf oil spill.”

    You have citizens and small government standing up to protect federally endangered species and irreparable natural habitats against federal regulations.

  4. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    In the first 50 days after Katrina. How many times had Bush been to the area. Now compare that to what Obama has done. Seems Bush lifed the Jones act almost immediately. Obama has still to do so. Obama gives speeches. Bush took action. What about those drown buses?

  5. john personna says:

    PD, one common thread _might_ be that governments should be comfortable with _disorganized_ response in the face of wide area disasters. I’ve suggested that about Katrina. I’m not really sure the spill is heterogeneous enough to really make that necessary though. It should be a grid problem, with similar replicated grids. The people with the Choctawhatchee grid square, or the Magnolia Springs grid square, should be given _organized_ autonomy. They should also be given tools for peer to peer communication.

  6. john personna says:

    Zelsdorf – cool, I didn’t know “visits” could fix the spill.

  7. john personna says:
  8. PD Shaw says:

    JP: One aspect of the National Contingency Plan is coordination w/ the various governmental interests, as well as prioritization. Local government certainly should be able to take steps in its own interest, so long as it doesn’t harm other states. The Louisiana plan to put up blocks that would likely send the oil to MS is the kind of thing that the federal government needs to evaluate. The feds blocking local attempts to block local traffic is bizarre to me.

    I’m more familiar with dry land “Superfund” sites, where government containment was a priority, but I’m wondering if mine and the government’s experience hasn’t caught up to a black swan type event.

  9. I, for one, look forward to David Simon’s next season of Treme that does nothing but bash Obama for the disaster that is going to overwhelm the Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida gulf coasts. And let’s hope it doesn’t escpae the gulf and enter the Gulf Stream.

  10. Mr. Prosser says:

    Katrina was a much more localized disaster which did not harm the Gulf Coast economy the way this spill will destroy it. The north and west sides of the gulf did not vote for Obama anyway so political criticism from that area doesn’t mean much. When the oil plumes work their way to the east side of the gulf and down to the Keys and Cuba (and they will) and then out into the Atlantic then the magnitude of this disaster will be seen. This spill is a destroyer of administrations no matter who would have been president.