There wasn’t much good news for the slate of Florida’s top gubernatorial candidates in recent polling results that show the vast majority of Floridians don’t even recognize their names.
That could be a problem unless candidates substantially increase their public appearances and media exposure — which they should do before the Nov. 6 election.
But as it stands, most of the over 600 people included in the scientific poll from the University of North Florida gave a shrug when asked if they knew the names of Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham, Phillip Levin, Richard Corcoran, Ron DeSantis and Adam Putnam.
Graham had the highest name recognition, perhaps because of her father, former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham. Still, nearly eight out of 10 had never heard of her.
Somewhat better news was accorded the Legislature, with 52 percent of respondents, all registered voters, saying they approved of the job their elected officials were doing.
Not surprisingly, people who identified as Republicans were much more likely than Democrats to approve of the Legislature’s job performance, 63 percent to 39 percent respectively.
What about the issues?
While respondents to the UNF poll didn’t have strong opinions on gubernatorial candidates, they did have strong views on other issues heating up in the state.
Amendment 4, a measure to restore voting rights to ex-felons, will appear on the same ballot as the gubernatorial candidates. This amendment seems to have racked up a lot of recognition and support.
Seven of every 10 people surveyed said they would vote in favor of restoring rights, even a majority of Republicans. But like candidates’ name recognition, that could change over the next nine months depending on the dollars thrown at marketing campaigns by the amendment’s opponents.
Another big “winner” on the survey were Dreamers, with a large majority of the respondents — 82 percent — saying they wanted these children of illegal immigrants to stay and eventually be able to apply for citizenship.
Republicans, who have often voiced ambivalent feelings about this issue, also favored letting them stay and become citizens, although to a lesser extent than did Democrats.
Age was related to people’s opinions, with older groups of respondents becoming increasingly less likely as they aged to agree that these immigrants should be allowed to stay.
On other issues, there was less unanimity, but still clear majorities.
For example, 55 percent of respondents said they opposed lifting current bans on offshore drilling while 37 percent supported the lifting of bans.
Similarly, 59 percent of people said they opposed allowing concealed weapons on college campuses, a number that’s remained stable over the last three times pollsters asked this same question.
On another question, 62 percent of the people polled said they supported the legalization of marijuana.
It was a question that found its highest level of support at 83 percent among 18- to 24-year-olds.
Support decreased with each age group, showing its lowest level of support, 46.5 percent, among those over 65.
Florida's pressing issues
Finally, age was also a significant factor when Floridians were asked to prioritize the state’s biggest problems.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that “education” was the highest priority for people either college-aged or in their child-bearing and child-rearing years.
For people between the ages of 18 and 54, education far exceeded other issues such as the economy, crime and terrorism.
But it seems once that child-raising threshold is passed, people can refocus their sights elsewhere. Crime, health care and immigration were the priorities for those 55 to 64 while immigration was the leading priority for those over 65.
What can we say of all these figures?
With many of the issues surveyed destined to come up during this coming election season, it’ll be interesting to see how much age factors into the equation.
Although millennials, roughly ages 18 to 35, will officially be the largest registered voting bloc, their record of vote-casting hasn’t been as stellar as, say, the boomers.
However, if these young voters do take time to actually go to the polls, it may be difficult to erase the power of their votes on issues such as legal marijuana and support for the Dreamers.
Only November will tell.