SURVEY SHOWS ST. BERNARD VOTERS WANT MRGO CLOSED
A Publication of the Florida Parishes Social Science Research Center
The SLU Poll: Attitudes Among St. Bernard
Parish Voters About
Random Sample Size: 407
At the request of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, and as a public service to the communities of the southeastern region of Louisiana, the most recent SLU Poll focuses upon the attitudes of registered voters in St. Bernard parish toward the existence in their parish of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) as a river traffic outlet to the Gulf of Mexico. In general, our brief survey suggests that voters in St. Bernard parish oppose the status quo with regard to boat traffic along the MRGO. In fact, most voters in St. Bernard parish want the MRGO completely closed to all boat traffic.
These SLU Poll results are based on a parish-wide random sample of 407 registered voters in St. Bernard parish, interviewed May 3 – 8, 2004. The overall sampling error is + 5%.
The Most Important Problem
In order to put problems regarding the MRGO within the context of other problems affecting voters in St. Bernard parish, we asked registered voters in the parish to tell us what was the most important problem facing the people of the parish. The top five concerns (Table 1) are 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%). Perhaps viewed in a somewhat different way, voters in St. Bernard parish are most concerned about their environment (MRGO/Erosion/Flooding/Pollution: 22.7%), economic development issues (Jobs/Economy/Education: 18.5%), and illegal drugs/crime (16.7%).
Notice that “closing the MRGO” ranks as the third most important problem. This and all other responses were in the context of an open-ended question. In other words, our questionnaire (See the Appendix for the precise wording of the questionnaire used in this survey) did not include a preconceived list of problems used to prompt respondents. This is one of the best ways to determine what is really on the minds of respondents. Therefore, the fact that “closing the MRGO” is the third-ranked, volunteered response enhances our view of the actual importance of the issue.
For that matter, even though only 10% of St. Bernard parish voters say that they or anyone in their family is “employed in a way that depends directly upon the MRGO” (Table 2), and only 8.6% say that they or anyone in their family has “lost property due to erosion along the MRGO” (Table 3), still, up to 70% say that they are at least “somewhat familiar” with “issues concerning the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet” (Table 4). Up to 65.8% say that the existence of the MRGO “increases the likelihood of flooding in St. Bernard parish during a hurricane” (Table 5).
Most importantly, the overwhelming majority of voters in St. Bernard parish oppose the continuing operation of the MRGO as it currently stands (Table 6). While about 23.3% of voters want the MRGO to continue to be open to all small boat, barge, and container traffic, up to 53.2% of voters want the MRGO either open only to small boat traffic or closed completely. In fact, 36.2% of voters favor completely closing the MRGO to all boat traffic.
Table 1: The Most Important Problem. “What do you think is the most important problem facing the people of St. Bernard parish today?”
Table 2: Employment Depending Upon The MRGO? “Are you or anyone in your family employed in a way that depends directly upon the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet?
Table 3: Lost Property Due To Erosion Along The MRGO? “Have you or anyone in your family lost property due to erosion along the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet?
Table 4: Familiar With The MRGO? “In general, how familiar would you say that you are with issues concerning the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet? Would you say that are…..?”
Table 5: The MRGO and the Likelihood of Flooding During a Hurricane. “Do you feel that the existence of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet increases the likelihood of flooding in St. Bernard parish during a hurricane, that it reduces the likelihood, or that it has no effect?”
Table 6: Options for the use of the MRGO. “Some thought is being given to whether the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet should remain open as it is, or should be closed in some way. Which of the following options comes closest to what you believe should happen to the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet…..?
Remain open to all
About the SLU Poll
The Director of the SLU Poll is Dr. Kurt Corbello, Department of History and Political Science. Through the SLU Poll, Southeastern Louisiana University provides objective and independent analyses of public opinion on important issues and elections. Each poll is conducted by students who are trained for the purpose and who are under professional supervision. Special thanks to Mr. Chuck Dellert, our roving graduate student in the Department of History and Political Science, for his years of helping to manage the SLU Poll.
Facilities for the SLU Poll are provided by the Florida Parishes Social Science Research Center (FPSSRC). Thanks to the students on staff in the center, for their helpfulness, smiles and laughter. Double thanks to Dr. Bonnie Lewis for never saying “no” to the call for “Help!” For further information about The SLU Poll contact:
Dr. Kurt Corbello
Regarding the services offered by the FPSSRC, contact the Director:
Dr. Bonnie Lewis