LSU Researchers Find More Louisiana Residents Say the State is Heading in the Right Direction

April 2, 2019

Baton Rouge, LA – Researchers in the Public Policy Research Lab at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication released results of the 2019 Louisiana Survey, which reveals that more Louisianans say the state is heading the right direction. Still, the researchers found that residents’ confidence in government to solve problems, along with expectations for political compromise, remains low.

Education and transportation are at the top of mind for Louisiana residents, though 80 percent of people surveyed do not expect Louisiana’s elected leaders to work together to solve the state’s problems.

These findings come from the first of six reports from the Louisiana Survey, a project of the Manship School’s Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs and conducted by the Manship School’s Public Policy Research Lab (PPRL). The survey is aimed at revealing how people from all areas of the state view Louisiana government and its policies. Conducted by PPRL interviewers between February 15 and March 7, interviewers polled 917 Louisianans age 18 or older from across the state. The total sample has a margin of error of +/- 4.6 percentage points.

“This year the data shows us that overall people feel more optimistic about the state of Louisiana, but people are still concerned about issues like education and transportation and are not confident that Louisiana’s government can work together to develop solutions to these issues,” Michael Henderson, Ph.D., director of the Public Policy Research Lab and principal author on the survey, said.

The first of the six reports from the 2019 Louisiana Survey reveals improvements in Louisiana residents’ opinions on the direction of the state and their confidence in public schools, but declining grades for economic development, transportation infrastructure and quality of life:

  • Forty seven percent of Louisiana residents say the state is heading in the right direction, up from 39 percent a year ago. The share saying the state is heading in the wrong direction fell from 50 percent in 2018 to 43 percent today.
  • Education and transportation top the list of concerns among Louisiana residents. When asked to name what problems they would most like to see the state government work on in 2019, 34 percent mentioned education and 32 percent mentioned transportation infrastructure.
  • The public’s confidence in state government to tackle these problems remains low. Taken together, 41 percent of state residents say they are either very confident or somewhat confident in state government to address their most important problem effectively.
  • Many state residents have a more positive view about their own financial situation than about the state’s economy.
  • The share of state residents who assign an A or B grade to the state’s public schools has climbed modestly from 18 percent in 2015 to 25 percent in 2019. However, grades for economic development, transportation infrastructure and overall quality of life in the state have fallen over the same period.
  • Fifty-seven percent of state residents prefer to see the elected officials in state government who share their positions on important issues to work with other politicians they disagree with, even if it results in some disliked policies, rather than to stand up for their positions at the cost of getting little done. At the same time, 80 percent do not expect the parties to work together to solve the state’s problems.

The Louisiana Survey has been conducted annually for the last 18 years (and twice in 2006), establishing rich longitudinal measures of public opinion in Louisiana. The mission of the Louisiana Survey is to establish benchmarks as well as to capture change in residents’ assessments of state government services. The survey is further dedicated to tracking public opinion on the contemporary policy issues that face the state. Each iteration of the Louisiana Survey contains core items designed to serve as barometers of public sentiment, including assessments of whether the state is heading in the right direction or wrong direction, perceptions about the most important problems facing the state, as well as evaluations of public revenue sources and spending priorities.

The survey is a project of the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs, an integral part of the Manship School of Mass Communication. The Reilly Center’s mission is to generate thoughtful programs, dialogue and research about mass communication and its many faceted relationships with social, economic and political issues.

Read the full first report from the Louisiana Survey here: The second of six reports from the Louisiana Survey is slated for release on Thursday, April 4.

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LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication ranks among the top schools of mass communication and journalism in the country, with its robust emphasis on media and public affairs. It offers undergraduate degrees in public relations, journalism, political communication, digital advertising and pre-law; and four graduate degree programs: Ph.D. in media and public affairs, master of mass communication, dual MMC/law degree and a graduate certificate in strategic communication. Its public relations, digital advertising and student media teams frequently earn national recognition, including the 2018 national Bateman Case Study Competition of the Public Relations Student Society of America.

The Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs is partnership-driven, action-oriented, and dedicated to exploring contemporary issues at the intersection of mass communication and public life. Its interdisciplinary approach draws together experts from diverse fields to advance research and dialogue. The intent is to inspire our communities to think deeply, take action, develop solutions and broaden knowledge. Underlying the Center’s endeavors is to strengthen and advance the Manship School’s national and state leadership in media and politics.