Louisiana — Several national media outlets have recently questioned of why Louisiana’s Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu has not followed several of her Democratic colleagues and come out in support of same sex marriage. According to the 2013 Louisiana Survey, the answer can be found in Louisiana public opinion, which remains opposed to same sex marriage.
Overall, Louisiana residents lag behind national averages on issues of same sex marriage, gun control and the legalization of marijuana. There is some indication that Louisianans are more open to civil unions, though opinion remains divided on this issue.
Nationally, public opinion has, over the past several decades, moved toward greater support for same sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana. A survey recently released by the Pew Center Research, for example, found that Americans favored legalization of marijuana by a 52-45 margin. A decade ago, only a third of Americans supported legalization.
In Louisiana, these numbers are reversed. Only 42 percent of Louisiana residents support legalization while 56 percent are opposed. While other states are experimenting with greater liberalization, Louisiana public opinion remains strongly opposed.
The same story line emerges on the question of same sex marriage. A news poll conducted in March found that 53 percent of Americans supported same sex marriage. Even more remarkably, 73 percent of younger adults, 18-29, expressed support for same sex marriage.
In Louisiana, 56 percent of residents are opposed to same sex marriage.
At least some of the opposition is rooted in the word “marriage,” as Louisiana residents are more supportive of same sex civil unions. Forty-seven percent of Louisiana residents support same sex civil unions while 49 percent were opposed.
The story line on gun control is slightly different. Louisiana has long been more pro-gun than the rest of the country and they remain so. A poll conducted in March 2013 found 51 percent supported “banning assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons.” Louisiana residents, in contrast, opposed a ban on assault weapons by fairly wide margin: 57 percent – 41 percent. This number is particularly interesting as 46 percent of Louisiana residents report that they own a gun, indicating that opposition to gun control exceeds actual gun ownership.
Moreover, while other social issues have clear demographic and partisan splits in Louisiana, opposing a ban on assault weapons is fairly uniform across residents, a rare bit of statewide consensus.