State most worried about economy and jobs, survey says
TALLAHASSEE— State residents are most concerned about the economy and jobs, according to an annual survey released this week by the University of South Florida.
The university and The Nielsen Company began the roll-out Thursday of their Sunshine State Survey, which focuses on issues instead of horse-race questions about presidential candidates or U.S. Senate races.
Nielsen interviewed 1,248 Florida residents from Sept. 1 to Sept. 19, with a margin of error of 2.77 percentage points.
The top concernwas the economy and jobs, with 24 percent of Floridians surveyed saying that was the most important issue facing the state. However, that’s down significantly fromfour years ago, the last presidential election year, when 44 percent of those polled chose the economy.
This campaign cycle, the environment is a far bigger concern than it was four years ago, with13 percent of residents saying that was the most important issue, placing it second on the list. In 2012, only 2 percent agreed, putting the issue outside the top 10.
The percentage of Floridians pegging crime as their leading concern more than doubled, from 5 percent in 2012 to 11 percent this year. The answers to the open-ended question varied a bit, with “crime/ drugs” showing up four years ago, and “crime/policing” in 2016.
The effect of recent, high-profile shootings involving police officers appears to show up in the numbers. Of all the demographic and economic groups included in the survey, African-Americans were most concerned with crime and policing, with 27 percent saying thatwas the most important issue.
State government still doesn’t get high marks for helping to create jobs, with 28 percent of residents saying the state does an excellent or good job in that respect, 42 percent saying it was fair and 26 percent going with poor. However, that’s a substantial increase from four years ago, when 51 percent said the state did poorly in that regard, 33 percent going with fair and just 12 percent saying the state’s efforts were excellent or good.
Voters in different regions, meanwhile, rate the state’s chief environmental problem differently. Overall, 34 percent of residents — powered by majorities in the Naples and Palm Beach areas, and strong pluralities in Tampa Bay and Orlando — said water-related issues topped the list.
Only 18 percent chose climate change, but 27 percent of those in the MiamiFort Lauderdale region went with that threat, compared with just 22 percent who said water-related problems were more significant.
There are more results coming as the survey is released over a period of threeweeks.