More than two-thirds of Hillsborough County voters give a negative rating to the local economy, with nearly a third (31 percent) saying it's in "very bad" shape, according to a poll released Tuesday.
According to the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, which commissioned the quarterly poll, the overall rating was 70 percent negative and 29 percent positive. Respondents of the city of Tampa were slightly more optimistic but still trended negative.
Moreover, voters expect little change in economic conditions over the next six months. About 46 percent predicted the economy would be the same, 28 percent said it would be better and 21 percent said it would be worse.
Despite some spurts of activity, the dual millstones of a troubled housing market and chronically high unemployment continue to drag down Tampa Bay's economy.
Tuesday's report, the last of a series of poll findings released by the chamber, also found the following:
• Sixty percent of voters favored lifting the Cuba embargo to allow free trade and travel, while 32 percent opposed it.
• Nearly half (49 percent) said they were more likely to vote for a candidate who supports ending the Cuba embargo; 33 percent were less likely, and 18 percent had no opinion.
• A clear majority (56 percent) favored a free-trade agreement between the United States and Panama. Asked about a United States-Colombia free-trade agreement, 38 percent were in favor, 37 percent were opposed and 26 percent offered no opinion.
• Voters were mixed about a proposal to replace the Sunshine Skyway with a higher bridge to help Tampa better compete for trade through the Panama Canal. Forty-four percent opposed replacing the bridge, and 41 percent favored a new bridge.
The survey of 400 registered voters likely to vote in the November 2012 general election had a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.