THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, June 20, 2012
David Royse, The News Service of Florida
Gov. Rick Scott's effort to remove non-citizens from voter rolls and the state's stand your ground self defense law are both overwhelmingly supported by most Florida voters, a poll released Wednesday shows.
Voters who responded in a new Quinnipiac University poll support the Scott administration's effort to find ineligible voters and remove them, by 60-35 percent, despite a fight over the issue with the federal government.
Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, discusses results of a poll of Florida voters, asking their opinions about Gov. Rick Scott, his efforts to purge non-citizens from voter rolls, and the state's "Stand Your Ground" law.
Voters approve the stand your ground law, which removed the duty to retreat before using deadly force in defense in a public place, by a 56-37 margin, the poll found.
But despite being on the "right" side of those two issues as far as the majority of Floridians is concerned, Scott's approval rating remained below in the negative. The poll showed 49 percent saying they disapprove of the job he is doing compared to 39 percent saying they approve.
The poll found Scott strongly backed by Republican respondents, and generally supported by independents. Democrats generally oppose his policies, but even there, some agree with him. For example one-in-three Democratic respondents said they agreed with the voter purge. Among Republicans, 90 percent agree with the effort to remove ineligible voters, while independents support it 59-37 percent.
The move to remove ineligible voters is less popular with minorities. Black voters oppose the idea 56-38 percent. But perhaps surprisingly, a large number of Hispanics – 42 percent – agree with the move, while just 49 percent oppose it. White voters back the voter roll clean-up 67-29 percent.
"Gov. Rick Scott may be a lot less popular in Florida these days than President Barack Obama, but on the face-off between the two on the purge issue, Floridians seem to be solidly in Scott’s corner," Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement.
Support for the state's current self defense law, including its "stand your ground" provision is 81-12 percent among Republicans, while 55 percent of independents support it and just 30 percent of Democrats. While majorities of white and Hispanic voters support the law, black voters, by a 59-31 percent margin, oppose it. The law has come into focus in the wake of the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a man who has since said he felt threatened and whose lawyers will likely claim that he was standing his ground as the law allows.
"There is solid support for ‘Stand Your Ground’ among Florida voters, especially Republicans," Brown said. "Republican lawmakers, who dominate the state Legislature, would be taking on their own base if they were to change the law."
The poll also found Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson with a 47-32 percent approval rating and Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio with a 51-31 percent approval rating.
Quinnipiac conducted the poll June 12-18, questioning 1,697 registered voters by phone. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.
Full data on the poll, including break downs of responses by various groups is at http://www.quinnipiac.edu/institutes-and-centers/polling-institute/florida/release-detail?ReleaseID=1765