Sep 142017
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

A mysterious new anti-Desiree Charbonnet hit piece that selected voters began receiving yesterday is just the latest effort to take full advantage of voter polarization that begins in Washington and trickles down to the local level. With “undecided” still the largest voting block in many of the October elections, candidates and their handlers are doing their best to develop messages that resonate with voters and build consensus.

A new WSJ/NBC News poll shows how difficult crafting the right message has become. Political divisions in America “reach far beyond Washington into the nation’s culture, economy and social fabric.” Pollsters Bill McInturff and Fred Yang report that this polarization began long before President Donald Trump was elected.

Whenever voters self-identify as Democrats or Republicans, they are more likely to tow the party’s line on issues and see the works from a different lens. They also tend to disagree not just on policy but “inhabit separate worlds” of differing social and cultural values and economic outlook.

Democrats and Republicans have moved farther apart on issues such as gun rights, immigration, and their attitude toward a better life for future generations. If New Orleans voters follow national trends, the vast majority support increased gun control, believe that immigration strengthens the US and are less confident that life will be better in the future. They are also probably more comfortable with societal changes that have increased diversity.

Nationally only 8 percent of Democrats approve of the job President Trump is doing as opposed to 80 percent of Republicans. A generation ago 60 percent of Democrats approved of President Dwight Eisenhower’s leadership.

Which voters are candidates trying to reach? In US census data presented by pollster Ron Faucheux this week, national statistics show that racial minorities and the multi-cultural population tend to be considerably younger than whites. While 19 percent of whites are under the age of 18, 25 percent of African-Americans and 32 percent of Latinos fit in that category. Of the multi-cultural population, 46 percent are under 18. On the other end of the spectrum, 27 percent of whites are baby Boomers as are 21 percent of African-Americans and Latinos.

While New Orleans population has still not fully rebounded since Katrina, the percentage of White and African-American voters has decreased and the percentage of Latino and Asian voters has increased, according to the Data Center.

With just four weeks until the primary election, candidates must show leadership and continue talking directly to the voters about the issues that affect their daily lives. They must be credible and believable and present realistic solutions to the city’s problems. The old style of government just doesn’t work anymore.

Danae Columbus, who has had a 30-year career in politics and public relations, offers her opinions on Thursdays. Her career includes stints at City Hall, the Dock Board and the Orleans Parish School Board and former clients such as District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, City Council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, Foster Campbell, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. Her current clients include District B City Council candidate Seth Bloom and At-Large City Council candidate Helena Moreno.

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