Matt McDaniel

4 minute read

The Road to 2016: Bobby Jindal

Bobby Jindal by Gage Skidmore.jpg

Quick Facts:

Current Governor of Louisiana

Re-Elected in a landslide in 2011

Indian-American heritage

Vice-Chair of the Republican Governor’s Association

Keys to the Party:

Winning two elections

Gubernatorial experience

Being out of office just as the primary season is heating up

Significant national exposure

Keys to the Press:

Indian-American Heritage: The son of legal immigrants, Governor Jindal has criticized illegal immigration and promoted border security

100% Pro-Life record


Two-Term Governor with experience in the House of Representatives

On most issues, has followed a consistent social conservative message

Consistent immigration message and is the son of immigrant parents

Has unique standing in the Party to address issues with India as India becomes a major player in the Pacific theater


Noted support for the wildly unpopular Common Core

While many in the Party have moved beyond the Christian denomination litmus test, Jindal’s Catholicism may be a hang-up for some Southerners and Evangelicals.

Particularly hard-core social conservative stands, including those in favor of the PATRIOT Act and opposition to gay marriage may not play well beyond early primaries or to a national audience

Little foreign policy experience beyond gubernatorial business contact was made patently obvious when he stated that Britain had “no-go” zones where Muslims have, in effect, colonized parts of cities.

Remembered in the Party for giving a weak rebuttal to one of President Obama’s first State of the Union addresses

Odds of Running:


Governor Jindal’s term expires after an election in 2015. Consequently, he will have a wide-open period of time to pursue the Presidency. While his poll numbers as Governor have been variable, he has become a leading spokesman among Republican governors especially in the area of energy independence. Jindal would not be a surprise candidate for President as his name was touted in 2012 as a possible contender. Following the defeat of Romney in 2012, Jindal made the rounds among the media pushing a line that the Party could move beyond the Romneys of the world. This was generally seen as Governor Jindal testing the waters for a 2016 run.

Governor Jindal’s calculation would necessarily have to do with fundraising before Iowa. Jindal’s social conservative bona fides will play well to the rightist crowds that are more active in primaries. However, the race is likely to be full of Party-line social conservatives (think Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, or Mike Huckabee) running in the “shadow primary” looking to get money before the race even begins. Of the socially conservative potential candidates, Governor Jindal’s gubernatorial experience and his relevance as a currently sitting governor will play well, but also may have limited his ability to build a groundwork in the early primary states.

Odds of Winning the Nomination:


Several things would have to happen for Governor Jindal to get to the front of the pack. First, he will have to stand out in both the “Governor” category of potential candidates (think, Romney, Perry, Bush, Pence, Huckabee, Christie, Kasich, or Palin) and the “Hard-Line Social Conservative” category (think Santorum, Cruz, Palin, or some yet-unknown firebrand). This will lead to his being able to raise enough money and finish high enough in Iowa to make a play in the South and continue to get money to buoy his campaign.

Once the other social conservatives begin to flame-out and governors are unable to raise funds to distinguish themselves, Jindal would look like a good compromise candidate.

The big problem for Jindal will be attempting to separate himself from the pack while not making statements like the “no-go” zones in European cities or like his flat performance in the State of the Union rebuttal.

Odds of a Cabinet Position:


With Governor Jindal’s term coming to an end around the time of the primary elections, he will be a very appealing candidate for a cabinet position, or even a Vice President for an inside-the-beltway, or Senatorial, nominee (think Cruz, Rubio, or Rand Paul).

Bottom Line:

Of the currently sitting Republican governors, Jindal appears to be the most effective at bridging the gap between establishment and social conservative. While his misstatements and conservatism may give national voters pause, especially if he runs against a Hillary Clinton playing the moderate, he could be very effective in appealing to the Republican base that votes in primaries.

GovMatt’s Opinion: Governor Jindal would be a very effective Vice President for a nominee with a Senatorial background. As a Presidential candidate, Governor Jindal’s foreign policy comments, support of Common Core, and his vote for the PATRIOT Act belie a candidate I would not support.