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Reopen the economy when public health experts deem it’s safe, most Florida voters say in poll

And President Trump should let governors decide when to reopen, the survey said.

Three out of four Florida voters don’t want to reopen the state’s economy unless public health experts say it’s safe to do so, according to a new poll.

A vast majority of those surveyed also think everyone should be wearing face masks inside stores as protection from coronavirus, schools should remain closed and that governors, not President Donald Trump, should decide when to lift stay-at-home orders.

The findings from Quinnipiac University offer another data point for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to consider as he weighs whether to reopen the state’s economy and ease restrictions on businesses and residents starting May 1. Most people aren’t ready for that, the survey suggests, with 72 percent of registered voters — including a majority of Republicans — indicating that stay-at-home orders should not be lifted at the end of the month.

The reasoning behind this is clear: people do not think the coronavirus threat will subside any time soon. Close to eight in 10 are concerned they or someone they know will be infected. Half of the respondents think the crisis will last for a few more months and 26 percent said they don’t it to end for more than a year. Most people are listening to the experts, the survey suggests, and not Trump.

It is possible that sentiment in the poll is driven by people who have remain employed and therefore feel relatively secure despite the hardships this shut down has caused for many people. Of the voters surveyed, 72 percent said they remain employed and most, 68 percent, do not feel financially strapped.

A majority of voters also believe DeSantis didn’t respond quickly enough to the coronavirus outbreak, which perhaps explain why they are split on the Republican’s handling to crisis to date — with half approving and 41 percent disapproving. Overall, 53 percent of respondents approve of DeSantis’ job as governor, down considerably from before the crisis started, when he enjoyed widespread bipartisan support. Now, just 27 percent of Democrats say he is doing well in his job.

Trump, meanwhile, remains slightly underwater in Florida, with a 45 percent job approval rating to 51 percent disapproving.

Still, if the election were held today between Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, it would be close. Biden would get 46 percent of the vote to Trump’s 42 percent — an outcome within the survey’s margin of error of 2.6 percentage points. More people think Biden would handle this crisis better than Trump.

Biden, though, has seen his favorability fall from 49 percent to 43 percent since a March 2019 Quinnipiac poll, and half of voters still think Trump would handle the economy better than the former vice president.

The survey included 1,385 registered voters and was conducted from April 16 to April 20. The margin of error is +/- 2.6 percentage points.

Read the details of the poll here.

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