April 8, 2022 7:00am

Here's what ails Louisiana, according to The Times-Picayune Power Poll

Also, leaders pick favorites, make predictions for gubernatorial election

Photo of Drew Broach
New Orleans, LA Correspondent
 
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What ails Louisiana?

The economy, crime, inadequate infrastructure and the triple threat of hurricanes, climate change and rising seas, according to The Times-Picayune Power Poll. Those are the top four reasons that Power Poll members say our state is losing population.

"While we all know there are no silver bullets to make quick work of society's ills, a good-paying job and a purpose-driven life is about as close as you can get," Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams said.

Said Allison Plyer, who studies these trends as chief demographer at The Data Center: "With national population growth almost flat, only the states and metros with the strongest economies and the most appealing assets will experience population growth."

Other see something deeper at work:

  • "People aren't convinced that staying in Louisiana puts them or their kids on track for a higher quality of life," said Caroline Roemer, executive director of the Louisiana Association of Charter Schools.
  • "Systemic racism is the No. 1 reason people are leaving our state," said Ashley Shelton, executive director of the Power Coalition for Equity & Justice.
  • "People are leaving because it has always leacked leadership at the state and local levels, primarily in the cities of New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport," Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court Jon Gegenheimer said. "I can't remember when we last had an effective governor.

Conducted online Tuesday through Thursday, The Times-Picayune Power Poll is not a scientific inquiry. But because it asks questions of the top Jefferson and Orleans parish influencers in business, politics, arts, media, nonprofits and community affairs, it does afford fascinating, non-partisan insight into the thoughts and opinions of those who steer the region. Of 600 Power Poll members surveyed this week, 117 voted, for a participation rate of 20%.

The No. 5 reason that members think Louisiana is losing population is the rising cost of property and flood insurance. Indeed, many are being hit this spring by higher flood insurance premiums - and not everyone understands why.

As for Gegenheimer's observation on leadership, Louisiana will elect a new governor in 2023. About one quarter of the poll respondents now want U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, another quarter want Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser and another quarter are unsure. Five other potential candidates polled in single digits.

But when it comes to predicting the winner, Nungesser pulls ahead in the poll with 30% of respondents picking him - and state Attorney General Jeff Landry zooms up to 19%.

We're 18 months out from the gubernatorial primary.

In the meantime, said Christopher Coulon, principal at Pivotal GR Solutions: "The next governor's race is vital to the future of Louisiana. We must stay competitive with our neighboring states and make some significant changes to our tax base, beginning with the phaseout of the income tax. Such an effort will take leadership."

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