LSU’s survey shows more residents believe state is heading in right direction

LSU’s survey shows more residents believe state is heading in right direction

POSTED: Saturday, March 31, 2012 - 7:00am

UPDATED: Saturday, March 31, 2012 - 7:04am

According to the 2012 Louisiana Survey, 47 percent of residents now say the state is heading in the right direction, a six point increase from 2011 and the first increase in the right direction number since 2008, when 51 percent of residents said the state was heading in the right direction. But, what does that really mean?

To put things into perspective, consider that national surveys by Rasmussen Reports asking comparable questions show roughly 30-34 percent of respondents stating the country is heading in the right direction. Approximately 60 percent say the country is heading in the wrong direction. Compared to the national data, Louisiana appears to be doing fairly well according to its residents.

The survey also found that perceptions about the direction of the state are heavily influenced by race and partisan affiliation. For example:

· 53 percent of white respondents say the state is headed in the right direction compared to 34 percent of African-Americans,

· 56 percent of Republicans - compared to 37 percent of Democrats - say the state is heading in the right direction,

· 53 percent of men compared to 41 percent of women say the state is heading in the right direction.

What might be causing the negative view amongst the 39 percent of Louisianans who think the state is currently headed in the wrong direction? With the exception of the post-Katrina surveys in 2006, overall residents have consistently named the economy and education as the state’s most pressing problems. This year is no exception. In response to an open-ended question, 34 percent of Louisiana adults identified the economy as the most pressing issue confronting the state while 28 percent identified education.

In terms of the economy, when asked if state and national business conditions were better, the same, or worse than they were a year ago, most residents do not think things are better; though those answering “worse” in regards to state and national business conditions have declined. Since 2011, the percent saying state business conditions were getting worse has declined by 12-points from 40 percent to 28 percent. And since 2009, the percent saying national business conditions have gotten worse has declined by forty-four points. This does not, however, mean that respondents believe state business conditions are necessarily improving. In fact, at the state level, the most respondents think things are merely stabilizing.

Interestingly, partisan affiliation plays an important role in views of the national business conditions but much less of a role in terms of state business conditions.

· Twenty-nine percent of Democrats say national business conditions are better than last year compared to 10 percent of Republicans.

· When it comes to state business conditions, 19 percent of Democrats compared to 24 percent of Republicans say conditions are better than last year.

However when asked to compare the State economy to the rest of the country, 41 percent of residents thought Louisiana was fairing worse than the rest of the country, and 48 percent think the Louisiana economy is fairing worse than the rest of the south. Given the improvement in the right direction number, and other positive economic data, this suggests Louisiana residents may not be aware of just how well they’ve weathered the recession.

“While residents remain concerned about the economy, one of the headline stories out of the 2012 Louisiana Survey is an improved outlook on the direction of the state and less negative assessments of state and national business conditions,” said Kirby Goidel, PPRL director. “While I would be hesitant to call this optimism, these are positive signs.”

The annual Louisiana Survey, sponsored by LSU’s Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs, was created to serve as a barometer of statewide public opinion. The 2012 Louisiana Survey results will be broken out into several sections in order to best disseminate its findings, and will be released throughout March and April 2012.

The overall survey includes 731 randomly selected respondents, including 517 landline telephone respondents and 214 cell phone respondents. The survey was conducted from Feb. 7 to Feb. 29 and has margin of error of +/- 3.6 percentage points. Final results are weighted to reflect the most current population estimates available. A detailed copy of the results described in this release and a discussion of the methodology can be obtained at www.survey.lsu.edu.

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