Florida voters may overwhelmingly support Charlie Crist's view that the minimum wage should increase, but they also share Gov. Rick Scott's deep skepticism about the Affordable Care Act.
A new Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/UF Bob Graham Center poll found 37.3 percent of likely Florida voters would like Obamacare repealed entirely, and another 20.9 percent would like "major changes" in the health care law.
While surveys consistently show public support for key elements of Obamacare — such as requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions — the poll underscores why the Scott campaign repeatedly likes to reminds voters how Crist has gushed over the "great" health care law. Nearly one-third of Democratic voters and nearly 47 percent of independents would like major changes or an outright repeal.
The Republican-controlled Legislature in Tallahassee has declined to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid to cover more Floridians, and Crist has called reversing that decision one of his top priorities if elected.
Voters are torn on the issue, however, with 33.7 percent saying Medicaid coverage should be expanded, 37.3 percent saying Medicaid should be left as it is, and nearly 1 in 4 voters saying they have not thought about it.
The poll also helps explain why Crist regularly trumpets his support for a higher minimum wage. More than 57 percent of likely voters — including 70 percent of independents and 79 percent of Democrats — would like to see the minimum wage increased in Florida. Nearly 1 in 3 Republicans agree.
Voters are closely divided on whether Florida's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage should be overturned, with 44.7 percent saying yes and 46.1 percent saying no. More than 55 percent of independents would do away with the ban, as would 52.6 percent of Democrats and 33.7 percent of Republicans.
Taking a hard line on illegal immigration and undocumented immigrants in Florida four years ago helped political newcomer Scott win the Republican nomination and ultimately the governor's race. He has softened his tone, but unlike Crist, does not support federal immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship.
The poll shows considerably more support among Florida voters for Crist's position.
More than 53 percent of those polled support a pathway to citizenship. That includes two-thirds of Democrats, more than half of independents, and 4 in 10 Republicans. Nearly 37 percent said they oppose a pathway to citizenship.
The telephone survey of 814 registered Florida voters — all likely to vote in the November election — was conducted Aug. 27-31 for the Tampa Bay Times, Bay News 9 and News 13 of Orlando by the University of Florida's Bob Graham Center for Public Service and Bureau of Economic and Business Research. The poll, which included respondents using land-lines and cellphones, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.
Contact Adam C. Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @adamsmithtimes.