Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Poll shows most Floridians favor path to citizenship, oppose Planned Parenthood funding cut

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A new Quinnpiac poll of Floridians shows that despite the increasingly harsh rhetoric about immigration in the GOP presidential primary, a majority of Floridians (53 percent) support allowing most undocumented immigrants to stay in the country and eventually apply for U.S. citizenship. An additional 12 percent say the undocumented should be allowed to stay in the U.S., but not be allowed to apply for U.S. citizenship. Thirty-one percent said that the undocumented should be deported back to their country of origin.

That’s one of just a number of important social, financial and military issues asked in the survey of three battleground states (Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio) released Monday.

Over the weekend, pro-life demonstrators protested at more than a dozen Planned Parenthood facilities across Florida. The events were part of a national day of protests spurred by a series of videos released that show Planned Parenthood officials discussing handling and selling aborted fetus tissue. The controversy led to an unsuccessful vote in the U.S. Senate to end federal funding of the agency, a result favored by a plurality of Florida voters.

The poll shows 48 percent of Floridians oppose cutting off federal funding to PP, while 42 percent support the idea. An additional 16 percent said they didn’t have enough information about the issue to comment.

The Iran nuclear deal is not popular with the public. In Florida, 61 percent oppose it, 25 percent support it, and 14 percent don’t know enough for an opinion. Florida’s two U.S. senators have already announced how they’ll vote on the issue when it comes before them next month. Marco Rubio opposes the deal, Democrat Bill Nelson says he will support it. Sixty-one percent of Floridians also say the Iran deal will make the world less safe.

Floridians are apparently more hawkish than voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania. A solid majority — 55 percent — say that the U.S. should send ground troops to Iraq and Syria to fend off ISIS (In Ohio it’s 51 percent, and Pennsylvania 50 percent who feel that way). Forty-percent of Floridians oppose adding troops, and 6 percent don’t know.

In addition, only 18 percent believe the U.S. is “winning” the war against ISIS.

Although President Barack Obama won Florida in both 2008 and 2012, he frequently has been underwater in his personal approval ratings in Florida. The Quinnipiac survey shows that only 41 percent of Floridians support him currently, while 56 percent oppose him.

But while they may not be into him all that much, Floridians are certainly behind his Clean Power Plan designed to close coal-fired power plants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Sixty-nine percent support the plan, 25 percent oppose, and 6 percent don’t know enough. An even stronger majority 73/24 percent say it’s necessary to have cleaner air. However, a slight majority (45/41 percent) believe such efforts will prove to be too costly.

Regarding income inequality, 52 percent think the federal government should pursue policies to try to reduce the gap between the wealthy and less well-off Americans, while 39 percent say they should not. By a 55/29 percent margin, Floridians support increasing taxes on higher income earners to reduce the amount of taxes paid by the middle class.

The poll of 1,093 Florida voters was taken from Aug. 7-18. It has a margin of error of +/-3 percentage points.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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