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Survey: Floridians Differ On Hot-Button Issues

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

It seems Florida lawmakers aren't the only ones who can't agree. Residents also are divided over key economic and social issues, according to the latest release of the Sunshine State Survey.

Floridians are divided in their attitudes on the Common Core school curriculum, off-shore drilling and accepting federal money to expand the state's Medicaid health insurance program, according to the first of four reports being released this month by the University of South Florida and the Nielsen Company.

Florida's growing population is a main reason why people are divided, said USF Professor Susan McManus, who oversees the survey. More than 1 million new residents have moved to Florida since 2010, the first year the annual Sunshine State Survey was released.

“It’s no surprise that you have a wide diversity of opinion on these big issues simply because the state itself is so divided in terms of its economics and socioeconomic, political, demographic background of our population,” she said Tuesday.

McManus says the results show the influx of new residents brings with it more liberal views.

“People moving into this state tend to be younger, not older, which a lot of people don’t realize,” she said. “Younger people are much more diverse in their ideologies, but especially in their racial and ethnic composition," she said.

“And you can see in some of these poll results, where age and ethnicity and race are large drivers of opinion and I think that is intensifying with each year we do the surveys,” she said.

She says these changes are a warning to politicians and special interest groups hoping to win in the next election.

“And you have to constantly be looking at changes in opinions,” she said. “We often say in Florida if you take last year’s polls or last year’s election results and try to fashion this year’s campaign you can be drastically wrong.

The economy, education, crime, immigration and the environment remain top issues in the poll, which involves telephone interviews with more than 1,200 adult Floridians. The Nielsen Company made calls in the first few weeks of August.

Copyright 2015 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Mary Shedden is news director at WUSF.
Mary Shedden
Mary Shedden is news director at WUSF Public Media, where she oversees a team of reporters covering 13 counties on Florida’s west coast.