Poll says voters think casinos good for economy, but not Gov. Scottby John Kennedy | January 10th, 2012
Opening Florida to casino gambling would be good for the state’s economy, but cutting Medicaid spending to find more dollars for education is a bad idea, a poll released Tuesday by Quinnipiac University shows.
The survey of 1,412 registered voters also shows Gov. Rick Scott is still struggling with low approval ratings.
Fifty percent of respondents say they disapproved of his job performance, compared with 38 percent who like what he’s doing — a slight improvement over a similar Quinnipiac poll in September.
Despite Scott saying that the state’s improving joblesss rate is a sign that things are looking up in Florida, 34 percent of those questioned said the economy is worse than when the governor took office last January, compared with 16 percent who say it’s better. Another 45 percent said the economy is about the same.
With the 2012 Legislature opening Tuesday morning, Quinnipiac’s survey covered the landscape of issues expected to drive the two-month session. Among those topics covered, legislation that would open the state to casinos and clear the way for as many as three ‘destination resorts’ to open, likely in South Florida, was generally supported.
Peter Brown, Quinnipiac’s assistant director of polling, said the survey showed allowing Las Vegas-style casino gambling won narrow, 48-43 percent backing from voters. But by a wide, 61-33 percent margin, voters said casinos would be good for the state’s economy.
“Creating Las Vegas-style, non-Indian casinos in Florida gets a narrow thumbs up from the voters,” Brown said. “But there are interesting partisan, gender and educational and age differences.”
Registered Republicans narrowly oppose casinos, 48-46 percent. Democrats support them 51-40 percent. Independent voters also look ready to place their bets, backing an expansion of gambling by 53-39 percent.
Scott has proposed as much as a 40 percent reduction in the millions of dollars the state pays hospitals for treating poor, elderly and disabled patients through Medicaid. In turn, Scott would use that cash as the base for a proposed $1 billion increase in funding for public schools — a turnaround from the $1.3 billion cut to schools he signed into law last year.
But the Medicaid cut is rejected by those in the Quinnipiac survey, with voters by a67-24 percent margin rejecting Scott’s approach. Still, those surveyed also don’t appear very optimistic about whatever comes out of the 2012 Legislature.
The poll showed that by a 48-39 percent split, voters think the state budget is unfair to people like them. By a 49-33 percent margin, they also disapprove of the way the Legislature is handling its job.
The survey has a 2.6 percent, plus-or-minus, margin of error. The survey of 1,412 voters was coducted Jan. 4-8.