Saint Leo poll finds support for raising Florida’s minimum wage

The poll, conducted in November by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute, found 63 percent for the gradual increase, 26 percent against and nearly 11 percent undecided.
Florida voters next year will decide whether to raise the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026. [AP Photo/Seth Wenig]
Florida voters next year will decide whether to raise the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026. [AP Photo/Seth Wenig]
Published Dec. 24, 2019|Updated Dec. 30, 2019

Going into what is certain to be a hard-fought campaign, a new poll by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute finds 63 percent of Floridians are somewhat or strongly in favor of gradually raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The question will appear on the 2020 general election ballot as Amendment 2, following a petition campaign led by Orlando personal injury attorney John Morgan. Last week, the Florida Supreme Court approved putting the question on the Nov. 3 ballot.

If approved by at least 60 percent of the state’s voters, the state’s minimum wage would rise from the current $8.46 an hour to $10 an hour on Sept. 30, 2021. After that, it would go up by $1 an hour every year until it reached $15 an hour on Sept. 30, 2026.

Florida’s minimum wage will be on 2020 ballot

Saint Leo’s poll found strong support among nearly 42 percent of the 500 respondents, plus another 21 percent who said they somewhat supported the raise.

Another 26 percent were against — 12 percent strongly and 14 percent saying they somewhat opposed the idea. Almost 11 percent were unsure how they would vote.

Saint Leo conducted the poll from Nov. 13-18. The university’s polling institute emailed the questionnaire to large panels of potential respondents, which organizers said allows them to get a randomly selected and demographically balanced sample. Doing the poll online instead of over the phone also allows participants to take the survey at a time, place and speed convenient to them, which organizers hope results in more thoughtful answers. Participants typically receive a token incentive, such as $1 deposited to an iTunes or Amazon account, for taking part.

“We try to make sure that the poll looks like Florida on a lot of different demographic characteristics,” said Saint Leo political scientist and polling institute director Frank Orlando. The poll asked about 70 questions, about a dozen of them specific to Florida politics, and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.5 percent.

That said, Orlando expects to see mix of opinions change in the coming 11 months.

“One of the most important things to recognize when you look at the result of this question (is) you see pretty broad support for raising the minimum wage, but this is well before the campaign over this question has started,” he said.

Already the arguments are taking shape. Service Employees International Union chapter 32BJ in Miami estimates 200,000 Florida workers earn no more than the current minimum wage, while millions more make less than $15. On the other side, the Florida Chamber of Commerce projects that raising the minimum wage would lead to the loss of nearly a half a million jobs by 2026.

“If we ended up a year from now with a similar percentage that would be quite a surprising result,” Orlando said.