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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is set to announce Wednesday that he is running for the Republican nomination for president, in a long shot bid that will rely on wooing the socially conservative voters who dominate early primary states.

Mr. Jindal, a 44-year-old former Rhodes Scholar who is barred by term limits from seeking a third term in Baton Rouge, is the first of four sitting Republican governors poised to enter the already crowded race.

Mr. Jindal’s path to the nomination looks steep. The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found just one likely Republican primary voter out of 236 polled—not 1%—who said Mr. Jindal is his or her choice for president. A Suffolk University poll of New Hampshire Republicans released Tuesday found two of 500 people who like the Louisiana governor best. He hasn’t been above 1% in an Iowa poll since February, when he received 2% support.

Mr. Jindal doesn’t talk like an underdog. He talks about a viable path to the GOP nomination, performing well among Iowa’s evangelical Christians and impressing New Hampshire town-hall audiences.

“When the front-runners are still clumped together around 10%, what that tells me there is a path wide open for folks,” Mr. Jindal said in an interview last week in Washington. “I get the sense that voters are saying this isn’t about just one good impression.”

Vandana Kumar

Vandana Kumar is a publishing executive with a 35-year track record in the industry. She leads the India Currents Foundation as President and CEO. As a new immigrant, she co-founded India Currents magazine...