By Eliza Stanley, LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE—Crime is the top concern for Louisiana residents for the first time in 20 years, according to an LSU survey released Tuesday.
The Louisiana Survey, conducted by LSU’s Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs, shows that crime is the primary concern for about one-fifth of Louisiana residents, with 80% of those surveyed saying crime has increased over the last few years.
Since 2004, the annual survey has asked participants to name the single most important issue they would like the state government to prioritize. For the first time in the survey’s history, crime ranked first on the list.
Nineteen percent of the people interviewed said crime is the state’s most important issue. In most years, only about six to 10 percent of the respondents have named crime as their top concern.
Four out of five Louisiana residents also said that crime has increased in recent years. This view is common across genders, ages, racial and ethnic identities, education levels, household incomes and political parties.
One-fourth of respondents said they were victims of a property crime within the past year, and 15% of residents reported that they were attacked or threatened with violence.
With crime surging to the first spot on the list of the public’s priorities, the economy and education, which have regularly topped the list, fell to the second and third spots, respectively. Fifteen percent of people named the economy as their top concern, and 10% named education.
Seventy-three percent of people interviewed said the economy is more likely to see widespread unemployment or depression than to see any improvements. And only 8% of people expect good business conditions over the next year.
Confidence in the state government to address these concerns is very low. Only 28% of Louisiana residents said they are either “very confident” or “somewhat confident” in the state government to resolve important issues. Thirty percent are “not at all confident,” and 40% are “not very confident.”
The survey results are based on responses from 500 adult Louisiana residents during telephone interviews. The interviews were conducted between March 22 and April 4. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.8 percentage points.
Of those surveyed, 61% believe the state is heading in the wrong direction. While this a decrease from last year’s 66%, this is the second consecutive year in which a majority of state residents said they were unhappy with the direction Louisiana is heading.
This belief is shared across genders and racial and ethnic groups. Sixty-two percent of women and 60% of men said they do not like the direction of the state. Sixty-four percent of white participants, 57% of Black participants and 64% of participants with other racial or ethnic identities said Louisiana is headed in the wrong direction.
This negative opinion of Louisiana is also shared by people with opposing political ideologies. Sixty-seven percent of participants identifying as liberal said the state is heading in the wrong direction, and 63% of participants identifying as conservative agree.
Participants were also asked to grade various aspects of life in Louisiana. The highest grades went to local neighborhoods, with 26% A grades and 35% B grades, and public colleges and universities, with 12% A grades and 41% B grades.
Louisiana’s economic development efforts, public K-12 schools and transportation and infrastructure were graded the lowest by respondents. All received less than 6% A grades.
Regarding Louisiana’s health care, twenty-two percent of respondents said they have not seen a doctor in more than a year, and 13% reported that they needed to see a doctor for their physical health in the past year but did not because of the cost.
Another 13% of respondents have forgone mental health care in the past year because of the expense.