Bobby Jindal was supposed to be the 'next Reagan.' What happened?

Bobby Jindal's polling numbers are at rock bottom. But Wednesday, Jindal officially announces his 2016 presidential bid. 

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the Road to Majority 2015 convention in Washington, D.C., Friday, June 19, 2015.

In 2008, Bobby Jindal was on fire. The Ivy League-educated Rhodes scholar known as a wonky pragmatist had just been elected the first Indian-American governor of Louisiana and was one of the GOP's rising stars, alternately dubbed "the next Ronald Reagan" and "the Republican's Obama."

"The question," Sen. John McCain’s chief strategist, Steve Schmidt, told The Washington Post then, "is not whether he’ll be president, but when he’ll be president."

As Governor Jindal announced his candidacy for president Wednesday, (Part 1 on Facebook, Part 2 in Louisiana), he had no where to go but up.

In a field of 12 declared GOP hopefuls, Jindal, with 0.8 percent support, is polling in 15th place – dead last, behind even undeclared candidates, according to RealClearPolitics.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal survey put Jindal’s support at zero percent.

At home in Louisiana, Jindal’s  job-approval rating is at an all-time low of 31.8 percent, while his disapproval rating has soared to a record high of 64.7 percent.

Things are so grim for the GOP's one-time star that if the election were held today, red-state Louisianans would actually vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton rather than their own governor.

What happened?

Jindal appears to be a victim of his own political ambitions.

Some trace the start of Jindal's descent to his 2009 GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union address, a "Kenneth-the-Page-like" delivery that quickly made the new governor the object of ridicule.

With his sights set on higher offices, Jindal, a wunderkind known as a pragmatic policy wonk, set out to reassure party conservatives, taking increasingly hard-line conservative stances on social and fiscal issues.

"But each time, he moved further away from the wonky, pragmatic persona that had made him famous in the first place," reported The Washington Post.

"Soon the Ivy-league biology major was punting questions about evolution and climate change to shore up his standing with social conservatives," added Time.

Often, to the detriment of his own constituents.

When Louisiana faced a budget deficit, Jindal, who had signed anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist's pledge, refused to increase taxes or reduce tax deductions and credits.

As Yahoo! Politics reported, Jindal tried everything else he could think of, leading some to conclude that he was “sacking his own state,” as American Conservative columnist Rod Dreher wrote earlier this year, adding that Jindal wanted "to preserve his viability as a Republican presidential candidate – specifically, so he can say that he never raised taxes, but rather cut them."

Instead, The Associated Press reported earlier this year, “Jindal scraped together what he could from all sorts of funds: railroad crossing safety, artificial reef construction, housing programs and the blind. He pieced together money from one-time legal settlements and property sales, using it to pay for continuing programs.”

The ramifications: As Yahoo! Politics reported, the state’s Medicaid Trust Fund for the Elderly has been depleted by $800 million, development incentives are down $450 million, Louisiana’s rainy day fund has dropped from $730 million to $460 million, state funding for colleges and universities was slashed by almost $650 million, and some 30,000 government workers, "many of them teachers, university employees, and health-care providers," have lost their state jobs.

Perhaps, for Jindal, at least, the biggest impact is that the man once called "the next Ronald Reagan" is now polling below the category called "none of the above."

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