Housing costs at top of Florida voters’ minds; recreational marijuana approval soars

by | Nov 30, 2023



  • The University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab poll highlights that housing costs are the top concern for Florida voters (26 percent), closely followed by the economy and job market (25 percent). Education and immigration issues are next in line, each cited by 9 percent of respondents.
  • The poll showed an increase in support for legalizing recreational marijuana, with 67 percent of Floridians favoring a constitutional amendment for the purchase and possession of small amounts for personal use. A measure backed by Smart & Safe Florida and Trulieve might appear on the 2024 ballots, although the state is challenging it.
  • Public officials’ favorability ratings depict a divided electorate, with President Joe Biden at 34 percent, Governor Ron DeSantis at 47 percent, and former President Donald Trump and Senator Rick Scott at 49 percent.

A University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab (PORL) poll released on Thursday morning reveals that housing costs are the primary concern for Florida voters, closely followed by qualms over the economy and job market. The poll, which surveyed registered voters across the state, also indicates a significant surge in support for recreational marijuana.

According to the PORL findings, 26 percent of Floridians consider housing costs the most pressing issue in the state, slightly overshadowing concerns about the economy, jobs, and inflation, which stand at 25 percent. Education and immigration issues follow, each cited by 9 percent of respondents as the third most pertinent issue.

The state of property insurance in Florida is another area of concern, with 30 percent of respondents attributing the greatest responsibility to insurance companies, followed by individuals and lawyers defrauding or exploiting insurance companies in a distant second place with 15 percent. Gov. Ron DeSantis and an increase in natural disasters each garnered 13 percent, while 12 percent indicated that the Florida Legislature is to blame.

“In the last year, housing costs, and now property insurance, have emerged as pressing issues to Floridians,” said PORL faculty director and professor of political science Dr. Michael Binder. “Insurance companies are most responsible in the minds of these Florida voters, but there seems to be plenty of blame to go around.”

In matters of constitutional amendments, the poll suggests strong support for the approval of legalizing recreational marijuana, with Floridians in support of the measure. Sixty-seven percent of respondents were in favor of a constitutional amendment allowing the purchase and possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use.

A proposed constitutional amendment, backed by Smart & Safe Florida and heavily funded by cannabis retailer Trulieve, aims to permit adults aged 21 and older to possess, purchase, or use marijuana products for non-medical use. The measure has received enough signatures to appear on 2024 ballots.

The state, however, led by Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office is actively fighting against the initiative, arguing that the wording would create confusion by stating that marijuana use would be “allowed” while remaining federally illegal. Following oral arguments in front of the state Supreme Court, a final decision is expected to be given by April 1st on whether the amendment can be presented to Florida voters, who would need to pass it with a 60 percent majority for it to become law

“Unlike previous surveys when we simply asked if folks support or oppose legalization of recreational marijuana, this time we gave respondents the specifics of this proposed amendment,” said Binder. “Yet again, it looks like it has a good chance of passing, if the measure makes it through the courts, and that is a very big ‘if’.”

In a broader political probing, public officials’ favorability ratings show a divided electorate. President Joe Biden received a favorable opinion from 34 percent of respondents, while DeSantis garnered 47 percent favorability.

Former President Donald Trump and Sen. Rick Scott both received a 49 percent favorable rating. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a former U.S. Representative now running for the U.S. Senate against Scott, remains relatively unknown, with a significant portion of respondents either not familiar with her or refusing to answer.

“No one fared particularly well in favorability, Trump and DeSantis each barely treading water, while Biden is well under water with a majority of respondents and the lowest favorability among the bunch,” Binder remarked. “A lot of folks aren’t familiar with Mucarsel-Powell this early in the campaign, but we can expect that to change as we get closer to election day.”

The poll, conducted from November 6-26, 2023, involved 716 registered voters and employed a combination of telephone and web surveys. It was weighted by various demographics to accurately reflect Florida’s voter population, with a margin of error of +/- 4.37 percentage points.

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