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St. Petersburg Times/Bay News 9 Poll

Undecided voters key to gay marriage ban

Floridians want to relax off-shore drilling rules and are likely to ban gay marriage. But they still like their governor.

Times file photos

Floridians want to relax off-shore drilling rules and are likely to ban gay marriage. But they still like their governor.

A proposal to ban gay marriage in the Florida Constitution is within striking distance of success, according to a new poll.

The St. Petersburg Times/Bay News 9 survey shows 58 percent of voters approve the proposal to define marriage as between a man and woman.

The poll, which was also underwritten by the Miami Herald, has a margin of error of 3.5 percent, meaning Amendment 2 has a shot at getting the 60 percent required to amend the state Constitution.

The poll showed 37 percent oppose the measure and 5 percent are undecided.

The new poll shows a slight increase over one conducted Sept. 2-4 by Quinnipiac University Polling Institute that showed 55 percent approval and a 2.6 percent margin of error.

The new poll comes as proponents launched an aggressive campaign to spread the word through church congregations.

"From the foundations of this earth, that's what God made it to be, between a man and a woman," said Joyce Payne, 68, a Temple Terrace Republican who participated in the poll. "I'm sorry it's even coming to a vote. These homosexual rights are just being forced on us."

But the proposed ban — similar to a current state law — is not certain to pass given the 60 percent threshold, which voters approved in 2006, at the Legislature's urging, to keep frivolous measures out of the state Constitution.

"When I was younger, I would have been for the ban," said Victor Collazo, 35, an independent voter in Orlando. "I'm Catholic, and I know what the Bible says, but sometimes you just have to change. People have rights."

Support among Republicans was an overwhelming 74 percent, while only 44 percent of Democrats want the ban. Independents are nearly divided. But in a year when there is the first African-American major party candidate on the presidential ballot, 65 percent of black poll respondents said they would vote for Amendment 2.

Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway is "somewhat optimistic" about passage, and notes that it enjoys majority support among a broad array of voter groups. She said the current economic turmoil makes voters more likely to support the status quo on cultural matters, which would mean voting for the amendment. "With the economy and so much uncertainty, people often don't want to say yes."

Florida headed in wrong direction

A new St. Petersburg Times/Bay News 9 poll suggests Floridians aren't too happy with their state. They want to drill and are likely to ban gay marriage. But they still like their governor.

58 percent of Florida voters want to amend the state Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman, thereby prohibiting marriage between homosexuals. The so-called gay marriage ban, on the ballot as Amendment 2, needs 60 percent approval to pass in November. 37 percent of voters oppose the measure.

59 percent support oil drilling closer than 125 miles from the Florida coast. No real surprise here. As gas prices grew at the pump, so did Floridians' tolerance for offshore drilling. Two years ago, as gas prices approached $3, 46 percent said they supported lifting the drilling ban off Florida's coast. Now with gas close to $4, the sentiment appears to have grown. 33 percent of voters still oppose drilling.

John McCain may have passed him over for running mate, but Floridians still like their governor. 53 percent give Gov. Charlie Crist a favorable job rating, down from 57 percent in a January poll. Crist took office 20 months ago, and 13 percent of voters rated his performance as excellent; 40 percent said good. 34 percent of voters gave him fair ratings; 11 percent poor.

51 percent say Florida is headed in the wrong direction. Amid the turmoil in the national economy, Floridians' view of their own state turned more pessimistic during the past 10 months. In January, 50 percent said the state was headed in the wrong direction; in November 2007, 44 percent. The new poll shows 32 percent think Florida is heading in the right direction and 10 percent are mixed.

About the poll: The telephone survey of 800 registered voters was conducted Sept. 14-17 by SEA Polling and Strategic Design, whose clients are primarily Democrats, and the Polling Co., which works mainly with Republicans. The poll, also underwritten by the Miami Herald, has a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

Undecided voters key to gay marriage ban 09/19/08 [Last modified: Friday, September 26, 2008 8:51pm]
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