Voters are overwhelmingly worried about the economy and want elected officials to address it as their top concern, according to exit poll interviews conducted across the state of Florida on Tuesday.
The numbers painted a detailed, depressing picture.
• 86 percent said they were worried about the direction of the economy during the next year.
• 73 percent said the economy was in a serious, long-term decline and not a normal downturn.
• 69 percent said the economy is the most important issue facing the country.
• 44 percent said their family's financial situation was worse than two years ago.
• 35 percent said someone in their household had lost a job or been laid off during the past two years.
Edison Research interviewed 3,185 voters in Florida for the National Election Pool, which prepared the questions. The exit poll was conducted at 45 polling places Tuesday and included a telephone poll of absentee and early voters.
Though cutting government spending has been a common theme in elections around the country, 42 percent of Floridians said the top priority for Congress should be "spending to create jobs." That topped the 34 percent who said the top priority should be reducing the budget deficit or the 18 percent who said cutting taxes.
Certainly, anxiety has translated into anger for some Floridians, but not all. About 27 percent said they were angry about the way the federal government was working, but a much larger segment — 43 percent — said they were dissatisfied, but not angry. (Another 21 percent said they were satisfied and 7 percent said they were enthusiastic.)
The tea party movement had the support of 39 percent of Floridians, compared with 32 percent who oppose the movement and 25 percent who called themselves neutral. But most voters in the U.S. Senate race — 61 percent — said the tea party was not a factor either way in their vote, even though Republican winner Marco Rubio had tea party backing.
On the question of President Barack Obama's job performance, 54 percent said they disapproved, while 45 percent approved. On Obama's signature health care law, a majority want it either expanded (30 percent) or left as it is (19 percent). About 44 percent of voters said it should be repealed.
In the Senate race, voters were asked if their vote was meant to express support or opposition to Obama. About 40 percent said Obama was not a factor, while 34 percent said they voted to express opposition and 24 percent said they voted to express support.
Voters were split on whether the economic stimulus of 2009 had worked: 33 percent said it helped the economy, 34 percent said it hurt the economy and 30 percent said it made no difference.
A majority of voters also had unfavorable opinions of both political parties. The Democrats were viewed unfavorably by 54 percent of voters and Republicans by 51 percent.
Times staff writer John Bartosek contributed to this report.