It is common in public opinion studies for people to rate individual politicians more favorably than the political bodies they serve in — and that trend is once again alive in Florida, where recent polling shows only 32 percent of voters approve of the way the legislature is handling the business of the state.
Sometimes, disapproval can be tied to specific policies that a legislature enacted — or in this case, didn’t enact.
Among the people polled in the Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, 49 percent supported an expansion of Medicaid eligibility, while 40 percent did not. Is it a coincidence that overall 49 percent of respondents also disapproved of the way the Legislature is going about its business? More thorough analysis would be necessary to really link the two together, but it does appear Floridians are aware that the legislature opted to reject federal funding to cover the cost of expanded care. Overall, 11 percent of respondents didn’t know — or didn’t care to answer — whether they thought expanding Medicaid coverage was a good idea.
Democrats support the expansion of Medicaid coverage by a margin of 72 percent to 18 percent, with Republicans just about a mirror image: 26 percent support while 62 percent oppose. Independents support health coverage expansion 49 percent to 40 percent; and men support it slightly more than women do (50% and 48%, respectively). Then again, men also disapprove of expanded coverage slightly more than women do (41% and 38%, respectively)… so that’s probably awash.
In this Q poll, Republicans see the legislature more favorably (47% approve/34% disapprove), compared to Democrats (18%/64%); and men do so (39%/49%), compared to women (26%/48%). Broken down by race, Hispanics view the legislature by far the most favorably (47%/29%), compared to Whites (31%/50%), and Blacks (16%/64%).
Interestingly, it is younger voters (ages 18-34) who feel most positively toward the legislature in this poll: 38 percent approve, compared to 32 percent of voters ages 35-54, and 30 percent of voters over age 55.
When it comes to gun laws, the Q poll had some interesting findings.
The work of the legislature fared more favorably regarding Florida’s “stand your ground” law which has become a focus of national attention in the closely-watched Trayvon Martin – George Zimmerman case. The law is strongly backed by Republicans, and was supported by 59 percent of independent voters in this poll. Overall, 57 percent of Floridians support the law, which was passed in 2005 to mean that you are not required to retreat when feeling threatened in places outside of your home. There has been almost no variation in overall support for this law since May 2012, three months after the shooting death of Martin, and no polling data is available prior to that date.
Yet when it comes to requiring background checks on people buying guns at gun shows or online, Floridians are overwhelmingly in support. Overall, 73 percent strongly support requiring background checks in these cases, and 14 percent somewhat support. In total, only 7 percent of respondents strongly oppose this requirement. Eighty percent of Republicans support or strongly support mandatory background checks, as do 94 percent of Democrats and 85 percent of Independents. About 82 percent of men support these laws, as do 91 percent of women. Even among current gun owners, 81 percent support or strongly support expanded background checks, compared to 92 percent among those who don’t have a gun in the home.