ST. PETERSBURG -- Nearly 60 percent of likely Florida voters either favor the repeal of the Affordable Care Act or want to see major changes to the law, according to an exclusive Bay News 9/Tampa Bay Times/Bob Graham Center statewide poll released Tuesday night.
The poll also showed that likely November voters are almost split down the middle on whether the courts should overturn the state's ban on same-sex marriage and that most favor an increase in the federal minimum wage.
Conducted by the Graham Center and University of Florida between Aug. 27 and Sunday, the poll asked participants their opinions about some of the most pressing issues heading into the Nov. 4 general election. It's the same poll that showed Republican Gov. Rick Scott with a 6-point lead over Democrat Charlie Crist in the gubernatorial race.
Only 13 percent of the 814 likely voters interviewed said they would like to see Affordable Care act left as it is. Thirty-seven percent said they believe the law should be repealed in its entirety, and 21 percent said they would like to see major changes to it. Another 25 percent favor only minor changes.
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"The findings of this poll are quite similar to others - a significant share of respondents express a negative view of Obamacare when the question is asked in general terms. But when the general question is followed by questions about specific parts of the law, strongly positive views typically emerge," University of Florida public health professor Paul Duncan said.
For example, Duncan said, "there continues to be strong support for the ACA requirement that policies allow adult children to remain on existing parental coverage, (for) pre-existing condition clauses and (for) subsidies for the purchase of insurance."
The poll showed that likely voters are divided over the state's same-sex marriage ban, with 46 percent opposed to overturning the ban and 45 percent wanting it overturned. Only 9 percent did not know or refused to answer the question.
Since July 17, one federal judge an four judges in state court have ruled that the ban is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle stayed his order pending appeal, while Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has appealed two of the state cases.
"I can tell you that five years ago, the support of the constitutional ban on gay marriage would have been much higher," Bay News 9 Democratic Party political analyst Ana Cruz said. "Our society as a whole doesn't care about who you sleep with or what you smoke, quite frankly, if you take a look at these polls nowadays. They care about being able to make a good living and a living wage."
Fifty-three percent of likely voters said they support federal immigration reform, including a path to citizenship, and 37 percent said they oppose it. Respondents also overwhelmingly supported a hike in the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, with 58 percent supporting an increase and only 25 percent opposed to it. Another 16 percent said they had not thought much about it.
Respondents were split on whether to expand Medicaid coverage, with 37 percent saying it should be left the way it is, 34 percent saying it should be expanded and 24 percent saying they haven't thought much about it.
Both gubernatorial candidates say they support taking in $51 billion of federal money to provide health insurance nearly 800,000 Floridians, but Scott has been muted in his support of Medicaid expansion, and the Florida Legislature rejected it.
“What I’m not willing to do is put Florida taxpayers on the hook " Scott told the Miami Herald recently. "I’ve been very consistent, and let’s all remember that Obamacare is an absolute bad bill for patients, for families, for employers, for employees.”
Pollsters conducted 920 phone interviews of Florida registered voters, with 814 identifying themselves as likely voters. The sample was selected from the Florida Voter File and both land line and cell phone numbers were used. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent.