One of the clearest messages voters locally and across Louisiana are sending their elected officials in poll results released Wednesday is that protecting coastal communities from inundation is a top priority.

The results, released by the environmental coalition Restore the Mississippi River Delta, are heartening for anyone who cares about the fight to prevent Terrebonne, Lafourche and the rest of coastal Louisiana from becoming the next Atlantis. 

Among the results statewide:

• 96% of respondents believe that addressing coastal land loss is a priority.

• 97% think the money set aside to address the issue should be used solely for that purpose and that more money should be found.

• 98% say as much coastal land should be restored as possible, even if it's less than the original footprint.

Local feelings closely track the statewide results on those issues, sentiments that have been building for years. But the results do reveal a few surprises.

For instance, about 60 percent of Louisiana voters say they would support a local or state tax if they knew the money would go to coastal restoration and protection. But locally, those numbers are around 55 percent. Factor in the margin of error at the local level -- plus or minus 8 percentage points -- and the majority becomes tenuous. Maybe that's because locals already spend a significant amount of tax money on flood protection, drainage and levee systems, unlike many communities farther from the coast. If the poll results are accurate, any efforts to persuade local voters to spend more tax money on the cause could be a tough sell.

Also interesting: 62 percent of voters across Terrebonne, Lafourche and St. Mary parishes answered yes when asked if they believe in climate change. Factoring in the margin of error still leaves a majority answering yes, a surprise in a community with a politically conservative majority. However, only 39 percent of local voters say climate change is affecting their lives now. That comes despite strong evidence that rising seas are already causing increased flooding, especially in lower-lying communities such as Grand Isle and Cocodrie. While they might not see it as their problem now, 66 percent of locals do acknowledge that climate change will impact future generations across Louisiana.

The triple-threat of sinking and eroding land, rising seas and hurricanes has always been a difficult topic to talk about, especially in a coastal community with much at stake. If the poll results offer any solace, it's that residents take the problem seriously and want their elected leaders to make it a top priority to do something about it.

-- Editorials represent the views of this newspaper and not any single individual.