As Legislature Convenes, Q-Poll Finds Floridians Divided on Expanded Gaming
Around the State
As Gov. Rick Scott gets ready to offer his State of the State address and the Legislature convenes for the 2012 session Tuesday, a new poll finds that Floridians are divided on whether to support resort gaming and less than enthralled with the state’s political leaders.
With the issue on center stage in the Legislature, a poll from Quinnipiac University released early Tuesday found that 48 percent of Floridians support creating resort casinos while 43 percent oppose the idea. Sixty-one percent of Floridians believe casinos would help improve the state’s economy, while 33 percent do not. A strong majority of Florida voters -- 73 percent -- insist that casinos are not morally wrong; 22 percent think they are.
"Creating Las Vegas-style, non-Indian casinos in Florida gets a narrow thumbs up from the voters, but there are interesting partisan, gender and educational and age differences," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Independents back casinos 53 percent to 39 percent. A majority of Democrats, 51 percent, support the casinos, while 40 percent oppose it. Republicans are more divided on casinos, with 48 percent opposing them and 46 percent supporting them.
There is a clear gender gap on casinos. Fifty-three percent of men support them, 40 percent oppose them. Women are more divided, with 45 percent opposing and 44 percent supporting them in the Sunshine State.
Voters ranging from age 18 to 49 support casinos, with 53 percent backing them and 38 percent opposing them. Voters ranging from 50 to 64 are more divided -- 48 percent supporting casinos, 44 percent are against them. Voters 65 and older are more opposed. Only 43 percent say yes to expanded casinos; 48 percent say no.
Scott is upside down in the poll, with 38 percent approving of his job performance in Tallahassee, while 50 percent disapprove it. In a Quinnipiac poll from September, Scott won the backing of 37 percent and was disapproved by 50 percent.
Despite the state’s unemployment rate dropping under Scott’s watch, 34 percent of Floridians believe the economy is getting worse on his watch, while 16 percent think it’s improving. Forty-five percent of those surveyed believe it has remained the same.
The poll finds that more Floridians like Scott personally. While Floridians were divided in the September poll, with 37 percent saying they liked him and the same number saying they did not, the governor got better marks this time out. Thirty-nine percent of Floridians say they like him personally, 34 percent do not.
"As Governor Scott enters his second year in office, he remains in the job approval doghouse,” Brown said. “He still has a long way to go to get into the voters' good graces and the high 40s percent range in job approval, which is the minimum generally needed for re-election -- and less than three years to get there. Compared to last month, at least, he seems headed in the right direction."
Scott is upside down with both genders. Forty-four percent of men approve of the governor’s performance while 45 disapprove of it. Fifty-four percent of women disapprove of Scott’s performance while 32 percent approve of it.
Scott is upside down with Democrats and independents. Thirty-five percent of independents and only 13 percent of Democrats back the governor, and 54 percent of independents and 75 percent of Democrats disapprove of his record in Tallahassee. Scott is doing better with Republicans after a bitter primary battle with then-Attorney General Bill McCollum in 2010. Sixty-seven percent of Republicans approve of Scott while 22 percent do not.
"Scott needs to bring home more of his own party members and improve his standing among independents," said Brown.
Only 24 percent of Floridians like the idea of cutting Medicaid to support state funding of education.
"Governor Rick Scott's proposal to reduce Medicaid spending and use part of that money for education gets a big no from the voters,” Brown said. “The best he gets is a 59 -- 30 percent no from Republicans.”
Seventy-seven percent of Democrats, 67 percent of independents, 63 percent of women and 71 percent of men oppose the idea. Fifteen percent of Democrats, 26 percent of independents, 25 percent of women and 23 percent of men support the proposal.
As the state Legislature convenes, they garner low marks in the poll as well. Thirty-three percent of Floridians approve of the Legislature while 49 percent disapprove.
Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio gets the support of 50 percent of Floridians who approve his performance, while 29 percent do not. Democrat U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who is up for a third term in 2012, gets lower marks. Forty-seven percent of those surveyed approve of Nelson’s performance in Washington while 30 percent do not.
The poll of 1,412 registered voters in Florida was taken from Jan. 4-8 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percent.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com or at (850) 727-0859.