News release
Public Information Office  SLU 10880   Hammond, LA 70402   phone: 985-549-2341   fax: 985-549-2061 Spring 2004 news releases Public Information home News archive

Contact: Rene Abadie
Date: 5/26/04
The SLU Poll: Attitudes Among St. Bernard Parish Voters About The Mississippi River Gulf Outlet

     HAMMOND – Most registered voters in St. Bernard Parish think the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) should be closed in some way, according to a poll conducted by Southeastern Louisiana University’s Florida Parishes Social Science Research Center.
     Directed by Kurt Corbello of the Southeastern Department of History and Political Science, the poll was conducted in early May and involved a random sample survey of 407 registered voters in the parish. The survey, which was done at the request of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, has an overall sampling error of plus or minus five percent. 
     “Our poll suggests that most voters in St. Bernard Parish think something should be done about the MRGO and certainly oppose the status quo with regard to boat traffic,” Corbello said. In addition, he said a vast majority of those surveyed – 70 percent – described themselves as being familiar or very familiar with issues concerning the MRGO.     
     Approximately 36 percent of the respondents believe the MRGO should be completely closed; 17 percent think it should be open only to small boats; and approximately 10 percent say it should be open only to small boats and barges. Less than one-fourth of the individuals polled – 23 percent – think the MRGO should remain open to all traffic. 
     The survey indicates that nearly two-thirds of the respondents (65.8%) believe the MRGO increases the likelihood of flooding in St. Bernard Parish during a hurricane; 16.7 percent believe MRGO has no effect on flooding; and 3.4 percent think it reduces the likelihood of flooding. Fourteen percent of respondents don’t know the effects on flooding or refused to answer.
     Only about 10 percent of the respondents indicated that they or someone in their family were employed in some manner that depends directly on the MRGO. Nearly nine percent of respondents (8.6%) said they or a member of their family had lost property due to erosion along the MRGO. Both are factors that could influence an individual’s opinion about MRGO, Corbello explained.
     Corbello sought to put the issue of MRGO within the context of other problems affecting voters in St. Bernard by asking survey participants to express what they thought were the most important problems facing the people of the parish. The top five concerns expressed were illegal drugs (10.1%), jobs and unemployment (7.8%), the need to close the MRGO (7.1%), coastal erosion (6.9%), and crime (6.6%). In grouping issues by similarities or broad themes, Corbello said the voters are most concerned about the environment (MRGO, erosion, flooding and pollution: 22.7%), economic development issues (jobs, economy, education: 18.5%), and illegal drugs and crime (16.7%)
     The responses to this question were open-ended, Corbello explained, in which participants were not presented a preconceived list of problems to prompt their responses. 
     “This approach,” he said, “is the best way to determine what is really on the minds of respondents. The fact that closing the MRGO is the third-ranked, volunteered response enhances our view of the actual importance of the issue in the mind of the public.”
     Southeastern’s Florida Parishes Social Science Research Center works cooperatively with university faculty to provide objective and independent analyses of public opinion on important issues and elections. Polls are conducted by specially trained individuals working under close professional supervision.