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Same COVID rules for Louisiana, New Orleans? Influencers split in Power Poll survey



MONROE, La. – Key influencers in Jefferson and Orleans parishes are of two minds on whether New Orleans and Louisiana should have the same COVID-19 rules, according to the latest Times-Picayune Power Poll. Similarly, they split almost evenly on whether New Orleans restaurants should be allowed to serve at full capacity, as restaurants elsewhere in the state now may do.

The results underscore a pandemic-long disconnect between Gov. John Bel Edwards, who sets the rules for the state, and Mayor LaToya Cantrell, who may – and has – taken a stricter approach to public health. Both are Democrats.

The dining issue has been of particular concern to the Louisiana Restaurant Association, which last week demanded that Cantrell align her rules with the rest of the state.

“The mayor of New Orleans is killing small business,” said Power Poll member Roger Villere, a political consultant and former chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party. “Florida, Mississippi and Texas are open for business, and we are shut down in New Orleans? It makes no sense!”

But Power Poll member Allison Plyer, chief demographer for The Data Center, says it’s suppressing the pandemic – not relaxing rules – that will improve the economy.

“Harvard studies using detailed consumer expenditure data found that lifting restrictions didn’t drive economic recovery and that resolving the pandemic will be key to boosting consumer confidence and spending,” Plyer said. “Lifting restrictions will only increase the virus’ ability to spread and mutate and thus elongate our economic recovery/rebuilding.”

There was clear consensus, however – even as vaccinations increase and new coronavirus cases decrease – on whether Louisiana drop its mask mandate.

Conducted online Monday through Thursday, The Times-Picayune Power Poll survey is not a scientific inquiry. But because it asks questions of leading influencers in business, politics, arts, media, non-profits and community affairs, it does afford non-partisan insight into the thoughts and opinions of those who steer the region. Of 369 Power Poll members surveyed this week, 99 voted for participation rate of 27%.

On a more obviously political matter, 61% predicted Troy Carter will defeat Karen Carter Peterson for the 2nd Congressional District seat that Cedric Richmond resigned in January. Peterson was the predicted winner for 15%, and 24% said the race was too close to call.

And in a question testing preference, 58% said Carter should win to Peterson’s 22%, with 21% undecided.