NEW ORLEANS — In an exclusive WWL-TV Gubernatorial Election poll of 800 voters, one of the principal concerns facing Louisiana residents is the continuing increase in crime and violence, which topped the survey as the most important problem in the state by 18 percent, followed by a lack of quality education at 16%, high insurance rates at 12% and economic growth and employment at 11%.
When factoring the total importance of crime – including those considering it the second-most important issue – crime held firm at the top with 33%, with education at 30% and economic growth/employment leapfrogging high insurance rates by one percentage point at 27%.
“You know, typically crime was dealt with by the sheriff, the district attorney, and the attorney general as well,” University of New Orleans Political Analyst Dr. Ed Chervenak says.
“What the governor can do is influence legislation, convince legislators basically to pass laws that can help reduce the amount of crime that that's taking place in the state right now. And so, it's kind of a symbolic leadership. Position, talking about crime, and then moving the legislature to deal with crime and in passing new laws.”
In May, the U.S. News and World Report's 2023 "Best States" report released an alarming statistic that Louisiana averaged 639 violent crimes per 100,000 people, while the national average was 399.
Locally speaking, despite the Metropolitan Crime Commission showing a year-on-year drop in all major violent crime categories from 2022, including homicide (-15%), shootings (-14%), carjackings (-43%) and armed robberies (-30%), the four-year trend from 2019 is staggering for three of the four offenses.
At the start of the year, WWL-TV reported how violent crimes are not just limited to New Orleans with a story about the Washington Parish city of Bogalusa proving crime is not just a big-city problem.
According to the statewide sample survey, the majority of respondents feel a tougher approach to crime and longer jail sentences are the main solutions toward reversing the trend.
Fifty-one percent recommend getting tough on crime, with the majority of those respondents being white males over the age of 45.
Forty-one percent feel the state should emphasize solutions for systemic issues of race, poverty, and unemployment rather than issue a demand for more incarceration.
Forty-one percent polled felt improving the business climate, cutting taxes and red tape topped the list of things to grow Louisiana's economy, followed by improving quality of life within the state (33%) and developing a skilled workforce (20%).
Voters can hear from candidates vying to be the next Louisiana governor in a live debate on Thursday, Sept. 7 broadcast on WWL-TV and its social media streaming platforms at 7 p.m.