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Polls: voters get it; lawmakers don't



Well, at least the voters got it right. According to a recent statewide survey conducted by the University of New Orleans' (UNO) Survey Research Center, an overwhelming majority believe Louisiana has a fiscal crisis — and a solid majority blame former Gov. Bobby Jindal for it. Too bad some state lawmakers aren't so well-informed.

  Speaking of the Legislature, the same UNO survey found voters have an extremely low opinion of state lawmakers, but they still view Gov. John Bel Edwards favorably.

  Meanwhile, Louisiana State University's (LSU) latest statewide survey — also released last week — found voters in a dark mood about Louisiana's future, which offers further proof that they've been paying closer attention to the fiscal crisis than some lawmakers.

  Those are among the major findings of the two surveys, both of which have been tracking voter opinions and attitudes for some time — UNO for 30 years, and LSU for 15 years.

  Here are the top line numbers from the UNO poll:

79 percent of Louisiana voters said there's a crisis with the state budget; only 11 percent felt we don't really have a problem.

55 percent of those who felt the budget is in crisis said Jindal is to blame; 28 percent blamed the Legislature; 13 percent blamed other factors; and only 4 percent blamed Edwards. That's a total of 83 percent blaming either Jindal or lawmakers, which again shows that voters get it.

Only Edwards fared well in terms of job approval: 43 percent gave him "favorable" marks compared to 34 percent "unfavorable." Only 15 percent of those surveyed rated the Legislature favorably; 53 percent gave lawmakers unfavorable marks.

  UNO survey director Ed Chervenak noted dryly, "The state Legislature finds itself experiencing a serious favorability deficit, matched by the state's budget deficit."

  The LSU survey, which was conducted by the Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs at LSU's Manship School of Mass Communication, offered no better news for state lawmakers. Survey director Michael Henderson noted, "The public is in a historically grim mood."

  Among the LSU survey's findings:

26 percent of the voters surveyed identified the budget crisis as the state's most important problem — the No. 1 problem cited this year.

63 percent said the state is headed in the wrong direction — the highest number in the history of the LSU survey — and 51 percent said the state's economy lags behind the national economy. That's up from 36 percent last year.

40 percent said business conditions in Louisiana are getting worse, compared to 24 percent who said that last year. Only 14 percent this year said things are getting better — and only 34 percent expressed any level of confidence in state government's ability to address these problems.

There was one bright spot: Voters gave high marks to the state's colleges and universities. Higher ed, which was decimated by Jindal (and, more recently, by state lawmakers in the just-ended special session), nonetheless earned an "A" or "B" grade from 59 percent of those surveyed.

  ... proving once again that voters are paying far more attention than lawmakers.

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