Thursday, May 11, 2006

Post Debate Thoughts

Why doesn't anyboby question Nagin on some of his statements? There's the old example of his statement that he doesn't consider contract proposals drawn up on napkins. Nobody even asked if he was saying that the proposal was drawn up on a napkin. The two latest are that he only wasted ten hours ordering the evacuation and that March sales tax receipts are up to 85% of what they were last year.

I'm not really that concerned about the first, but WTF? We were in the bull's eye all day Saturday, would it have taken until midnight to order the evacuation? It has nothing to do with how I'll vote, but I'd like an explanation for that statement.

The statement about sales tax receipts bears closer examination. It demands closer examination. It cries out for closer examination. Has anyone even asked for documentation? I suspect that either an accounting error or some deliberate change in accounting procedure is involved. That does make one wonder about Nagin's insistence that there's no need for a city audit.

I forgot, Nagin's honest and he's CPA and a turn-around expert himself. Unfortunately, I don't think that Landrieu scored the points that he could have because he seems to still be waiting for other candidates to atack Nagin or to be directly attacked himself so that he can counterpunch. I thought that Landrieu could have scored more points off of Nagin's statement to the effect that he doesn't really need to get along with the mayor Baton Rouge, but maybe he was correct to handle it with a light touch. It certainly seems to me that it would be very easy to point out that Nagin has two basic campaign themes: "Trust me" and "It's not my fault." I guess that's another similarity between Nagin and Bush.

Admittedly, adrastos and oyster (again) come up with better reasons than I do for the GOP (or parts of its leadership) to back Nagin. Obviously, it would be of more interest to the state GOP than the national party, but I don't expect to see any more state Republicans endorsing Nagin. Considering how rapidly the rumor mill works in N.O. (especially among the relatively small number of voters that a Jindal or Vitter endorsement would target) why would Jindal or Vitter bother to endorse Nagin? Wouldn't it make more sense to put out the rumor that they planned to endorse Nagin this week, followed by the "inside scoop" that they really wanted because they were really concerned about what a disaster Landrieu would be be as mayor, but they just couldn't endorse Nagin, etc., next week.

No matter how reliable the sources of rumors that Jindal or Vitter plans to endorse Nagin, I don't see the per centage in it, especially for Jindal, but even for Nagin. The rumor mill works fast enough--when I lived in the French Quarter, I'd hear the same rumors or "inside scoop" at my corner bar that I'd hear from my retired school teacher mother who in turn heard them from my brother who heard them at his mostly Republican corporate (by new Orleans standards) law firm. It's easily possible to get out the desired message without the open endorsement. Throw in the fact that "Mayor Nagin was practically endorsed by the Bush White House" (Jeff Crouere's term), and I don't see it making any sense for either Jindal or Vitter to endorse Nagin. It could even backfire against Nagin.

The big question is how Nagin can make the push for a large black turnout without enraging conservative white voters. I would have thought that Jesse Jackson's presence on the podium with Nagin would have handed that vote to Landrieu. If Nagin makes that kind of push (or if Jackson shows up on his own) expect it to come very late next week, on the theory that the more affluent displaced voters would be more likely to have driven in to cast an early vote or mailed in a ballot than to come in on the last day. If they've really got it planned out, remember that Republicans historically tend to vote earlier. At least that's the cliche; I don't know if it could be timed that closely.

One final question, is it even remotely possible that Couhig's late push came at Landrieu's expense. Since Couhig surged late, you'd expect his vote to be lower among absentee voters. That turned out to be the case:

ABSENTEE BALLOTS (assumed majority diaspora vote)
Total Votes: 21,351
Nagin 8,155 (38.2%)
Landrieu 7,576 (35.5%)
Forman 3,527 (16.5%)
Couhig 852 (4.0%)


But the odd thing is that if you take about six per cent of Landrieu's vote and give it to Couhig, the absentee vote almost perfectly mirrors the total vote. Almost certainly a coincidence, but it would indicate that Forman's support was never very strong to begin with. Credit for the data goes to Seymour D. Fair at Third Battle who also provides a link to more detailed election results. I have to take the blame for the tangent about giving votes from Landrieu to Couhig.

Comments:
I could see that sales tax numbers could be up if some of the construction materials for houses were sold in New Orleans and probably some are. Also all of the new cars replacing flood cars being bought lately, myself included. A lot of big ticket items. Furniture's probably going pretty well too.
It seems like people are either voting by racial or political lines or anti-incumbent like myself. This runoff election is going to illustrate that race is a bigger divider than political ideology especially in the black community. Nagin became a card carrying member of the black community on MLK day this year, a planned political move.
 
My first thought was that it was thr result of some kind of sales tax extension granted last year and collected this year. What you're saying could be part of it, certainly on cars where you a N.O. resident has to pay the tax, no matter where he buys the car--if I remember correctly. Not sure about the rest of it, but an audit would show whether it was a real recovery, a one time bounce or an accounting trick.
 
Maybe the 15 percent of people who cheated on sales tax have left, leaving the 85 percent who are honest.
 
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