Street flooding on Monday is a reminder of the drainage challenges the city of New Orleans is facing. In the upcoming election, a new WWL-TV/New Orleans Advocate poll shows that the drainage situation and crisis at the Sewerage and Water Board is among the top issues voters want candidates to address.
In the poll conducted for the two media organizations by Ron Faucheux of Clarus Research Group, 64 percent of likely registered voters said drainage and flood control are the most important issues for the upcoming election. That was second only to crime, which 72 percent of voters ranked as their top issue.
Faucheux says it is clear the new mayor will have to address the very public failures of the drainage system and overhaul the board overseeing it. “The biggest challenge they will have is funding modernized infrastructure."
Troubles with the city's pumps and the Sewerage and Water Board go back well beyond any of the public officials in office now, but voters are clearly focusing their anger on the ones in front of them.
More than 51 percent of voters blame the Sewerage and Water board for the August flood. 16 percent blame Mayor Mitch Landrieu and 6 percent blame the City Council. 24 percent blame all three.
Faucheux says, for the most part, Landrieu has fared well in the fallout. “What he did in terms of handling the issue was a remarkable example of political jujitsu where somebody was able to separate themselves from a really big problem,” Faucheux said.
“Now there are still a lot of voters who do blame Landrieu for it and think less of him now than they did before. But generally speaking I think he was effective in making the Sewerage and Water Board as an entity the target of blame as opposed to himself personally.”
It may take another kind of jujitsu to update and improve the city's drainage system. it's a job that'll be handled by a new mayor, who will most likely become a new target for blame.
The poll was conducted Sept. 25 through 27 and surveyed 500 likely registered voters in Orleans Parish. It has a margin of error of 4.3 points.