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Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Gov. Bobby Jindal heads into Louisiana's legislative session next week with his popularity slipping in the polls.

According to a statewide survey of 600 registered voters by Southern Media Opinion and Research, Jindal's approval rating has sunk to 38 percent.

That's compared to 51 percent last fall and 61 percent this time last year.

'When someone goes down 23 percentage points, especially a high-profile politician, that person is in political free-fall,' said Eyewitness News Political Analyst Clancy DuBos.

The survey conducted two weeks ago shows key indicators leading to Jindal's free-fall.

The prospect of more state budget cuts was unpopular with 60 percent of the respondents.

Forty-eight percent say conditions are getting worse in Louisiana, not better.

More than 60 percent oppose the governor's plans to privatize public hospitals.

The poll also found 63 percent of the respondents opposed Jindal's plans to swap income tax for higher sales tax.

'Governor Jindal is married to unpopular policies in a political environment where voters are not optimistic about their future in this state,' said New Orleans political strategist Silas Lee.

Pollster Bernie Pinsonat, who conducted the survey, said deep cuts to higher education and health care left respondents unhappy with the governor.

'They've been hearing this for four years, and basically they're tired of it and it's affecting Governor Jindal's popularity,' said Pinsonat. 'It's just that simple.'

DuBos says the poll numbers undercut the governor's ability to get his tax swap through the legislature.

'I think it's going to embolden his legislative opponents, both Democrat and Republican.'

Lee said Jindal's policies in general will not be very popular with the legislature.

'Once this trend starts in the second term, it's basically impossible to reverse it, that downward slide.'

Jindal's communications director, Kyle Plotkin, released this statement about the SMOR poll:

'We care more about the unemployment numbers than approval numbers, and right now, we still have too many Louisianians unemployed and underemployed.

'That's why our number one focus is growing the economy and creating jobs so that we can make Louisiana the best place in the world to raise a family and find a good paying job.

'More than 60 percent of the new jobs created over the past ten years were created in states with no income taxes. The best way to grow the economy is to eliminate income taxes. We have presented a plan to do that in one year and we are in ongoing discussions with legislators about how best to reach that goal.'

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