USF releases final survey in series on voter perspectives, including high-speed rail, same sex marriage and affordable health care
TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 14, 2014) – Results released Tuesday in the annual Sunshine State Survey administered by the University of South Florida School of Public Affairs and Nielsen identified 23 issues that either divide or unite the state. Among these issues are offshore drilling, same sex marriage, medicinal marijuana, common core standards and the Stand Your Ground law.
“This portion of the survey is reflective of Florida’s diversity, and opinions vary considerably as to whether the state is moving in the right direction and the degree to which specific policies are perceived as helping or hindering that move,” said USF Distinguished University Professor Susan MacManus.
The survey asked whether respondents think Florida is a better or worse place to live now than five years ago or if it is about the same. Nearly half (46 percent) said it is “about the same.” The remainder is fairly divided: 27 percent said it is “worse” while 25 percent see it as a “better” place to live than five years ago. Since 2011, the “better” ratings jumped from 12 percent to 25 percent; the “worse” ratings fell from 45 percent to 27 percent.
“The key here is that things have gotten better, most likely due to the economic recovery that has occurred these last couple of years,” MacManus said.
MacManus also said respondents think the quality of life in Florida will be getting “better” rather than “worse” during the next five years.
The survey asked about a number of issues facing the state and if the state would be moving in the right direction or wrong direction if policy makers took certain action.
· 58 percent said developing a high-speed rail system would move the state in the right direction.
· 55 percent said implementing affordable health care exchanges would move the state in the right direction.
· 50 percent said legalizing medicinal use of marijuana would move the state in the right direction.
· 44 percent said allowing offshore drilling for oil and gas would move the state in the right direction.
· 42 percent said implementing the common core standards in public schools would move the state in the right direction.
· 40 percent said legalizing same sex marriage would move the state in the right direction.
· 49 percent said starting to collect sales tax on Internet purchases would move the state in the wrong direction.
· 48 percent said repealing the death penalty would move the state in the wrong direction.
· 41 percent said repealing the Stand Your Ground law would move the state in the wrong direction.
In addition to identifying key issues, this portion of the Sunshine State Survey reveals Floridians’ opinions on public finances. Nearly 70 percent of respondents rate the state’s job of managing its finances as either “fair” (42 percent) or “poor” (26 percent). However, ratings have improved since 2011. “Good” ratings have increased eight percent (15 percent to 23 percent), while “poor” ratings have fallen from 42 percent to 26 percent.
Respondents are nearly evenly divided between those who do not want to raise taxes to expand services (49 percent) and those who do (46 percent).
The survey asked respondents to identify the least fair state revenue source, and 30 percent said communication services tax on cable, mobile devices and satellite is the least fair, followed by property taxes (20 percent), gas taxes (12 percent) and road tolls (10 percent).
The Sunshine State Survey also asked respondents how closely they pay attention to current events and how they get news. A majority (63 percent) of Floridians said they pay “a lot” of attention to current events. The survey also shows that males, wealthier respondents and college graduates pay the most attention to current events.
Two-thirds of Floridians get most of their news from television, with local news being the primary source (29 percent). Nearly 20 percent get most of their news from online sources such as online newspapers and social media. Only 9 percent get most of their news from print newspapers.
MacManus said the way people consume news is rapidly changing, and that age makes a difference. Almost 40 percent of 18-34 year olds are the most likely to “always” use mobile devices to access the news, while 48 percent of seniors 65 and older “never” do.
The Data Release 6 Report, including crosstabs, can be found at sunshinestatesurvey.org/results. These results were updated Tuesday afternoon to include an additional quick facts page about public finances.
The University of South Florida is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. USF is a Top 50 research university among both public and private institutions nationwide in total research expenditures, according to the National Science Foundation. Serving nearly 48,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.5 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.