Florida voters said they think the biggest issues facing the state this election year are its economic, school safety and environmental policies – in that order.
That’s according to a new USA TODAY NETWORK-FLORIDA scientific poll conducted in partnership with Florida Atlantic University’s Business and Economics Polling Initiative. The poll is an initiative of the network’s Florida Voices project, which launched May 6 to identify the issues Floridians care most about this election year.
While one in four people said the economy is the most important issue, about 20 percent said it was school safety and about 12 percent said it was the environment.
A thousand people across the state were polled between May 31 and June 3. The results have a 3.1 percent margin of error.
Most respondents – more than two out of three – said Florida is moving in the right direction, while about 37 percent said the state is on the wrong track.
Republicans (79 percent) and independent voters were more likely to say the state was on the right track. Most Democrats disagreed, with about 51 percent saying the state was moving in the wrong direction.
Wages are the most important economic issue, 17 percent of respondents said; 14 percent cited the income gap between the rich and the poor.
Voters had mixed opinions on their personal finances:
About 40 percent said their finances have stayed the same over the last year;
34 percent said they’ve improved;
26 percent said they’ve worsened.
Climate change is the most important environmental issue, 30 percent of respondents said, while 18 percent cited increased development and about 9 percent said they were most concerned about Florida’s water quality.
About 17 percent said they were unsure of the biggest environmental issue.
Most people said they don’t believe the state’s environmental protection laws are strict enough. Nearly 50 percent said the laws were weak, while 34 percent said the laws were “about right.”
After the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Floridians are concerned about more school shootings and gun safety.
Most people surveyed said Florida’s gun laws are not strict enough:
60 percent said the gun laws are too weak;
Nearly 27 percent said they were “about right”;
13 percent said they were too strict.
Among the myriad school safety issues:
41 percent said shootings were the most important;
26 percent said they were most worried about bullying;
16 percent cited drug abuse.
Floridians have mixed views on the state’s immigration policies:
45 percent said immigration policies are not strict enough;
27 percent said the laws are too strict;
Nearly 28 percent said the laws are “about right.”
The USA TODAY NETWORK-FLORIDA will use the polling data to guide its Florida Voices coverage through the Nov. 6 election.
This article provided by NewsEdge.