Exit poll: 2 in 10 La. voters hurt by oil spill


NEW ORLEANS (AP) – The Gulf of Mexico oil spill caused severe hardship to about half as many Louisiana voters as have recent hurricanes, according to preliminary results of exit polls at precincts.

The preliminary data Tuesday found that nearly two in 10 voters say they were hurt badly by the spill, compared to four in 10 who say they experienced hardship as a result of any of the four hurricanes that pounded the state in 2005 and 2008.

About half of those who suffered from the spill and about three-quarters of those hit by hurricanes said they have recovered.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita slammed Louisiana’s coast in 2005, and Gustav and Ike stormed north through the state in 2008.

The exit polls found that eight in 10 are worried about the economy — with more than five in 10 very worried. The economy was named the most important of four issues facing the nation by six in 10 Louisiana voters, with health care a distant second, chosen by two in 10.

Stefan Magee, a 39-year-old registered nurse who lives on New Orleans’ west bank, said he was worried jobs are leaving the country.

“I have three children. My children may be working in India or China,” Magee said.

Cindy Gremillion, 53, said she was worried that her daughter, Angelina, currently a clerk for a home decor company, won’t be able to get a good job.

“My husband works for the Post Office,” she said. “He now does the work of three men because they haven’t replaced anybody at the Post Office for several years.”

About four in 10 Louisiana voters said they support the tea party movement.

The preliminary exit poll of 789 Louisiana voters was conducted for the Associated Press by Edison Research in a random sample of 22 precincts statewide. Results were subject to a sampling error of plus or minus 5 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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