April 10, 2008 - Approval Down, But Still Ok For Florida's Gov. Crist, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Voters Support Plans To Cut Spending, Taxes

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Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's job approval rating has dropped to its lowest point ever, but still remains a healthy 59 - 25 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Meanwhile, voters are only vaguely aware of proposed constitutional amendments to change Florida's tax system and limit government spending. But they are positive about the ideas under discussion, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds:
  • 50 - 31 percent in favor of a constitutional amendment to cap state and local spending at the rate of inflation and population growth, plus 1 percent;
  • 48 - 41 percent in favor of cutting property taxes about 25 percent, while raising sales taxes 1 cent and eliminating sales tax exemptions.
Voters split on another tax/spending question, with 43 percent saying the State Legislature only should reduce spending and cut programs to balance the state budget, while 41 percent say legislators also should consider raising taxes and closing tax loopholes.

But by a strong 61 - 28 percent margin, voters oppose using state financial reserves to reduce the budget deficit.

Florida voters also say 64 - 27 percent the state's declining population growth rate is a good thing. Voters also say 55 - 40 percent that Gov. Crist's proposal to increase legalized gambling to help finance education and avoid more budget cuts is a "good idea."

"Even as Gov. Charlie Crist's approval ratings decline a bit, they remain the envy of most governors. The reason his numbers are lower is that they were so high to begin with and voter satisfaction with how things are going in Florida has plummeted," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"Moreover, about half of Florida voters give Gov. Crist credit for keeping his campaign promises," Brown added.

Crist's 59 percent rating continues his slow, incremental decline that has come more among independents and Democrats. His approval rating peaked at 73 percent in March and July of 2007, while his previous low was 65 percent in September and October of 2007. By a margin of 51 - 33 percent, including 46 - 40 percent among Democrats, Florida voters think the Republican Crist has kept his campaign promises.

Only 37 percent of Florida voters are "very satisfied" or "somewhat satisfied" with the way things are going in the state, while 62 percent are "somewhat dissatisfied" or "very dissatisfied." This is the lowest satisfaction rate since Quinnipiac University began asking this question in February, 2005.

Despite the attention in Tallahassee to proposed constitutional amendments that could change state and local government finances, only 32 percent of voters say they know "a lot" or "some" about a proposal to cap on state and local government spending, while 65 percent know "a lot" or "some" about the idea of cutting property taxes in exchange for higher and broader sales taxes.

"Nevertheless, there is support for the general ideas when they are briefly explained," said Brown.

Another tax idea, a $1 per pack increase in the levy on cigarettes with the money set aside for health care, receives 69 - 29 percent support.

Florida voters oppose 54 - 41 percent providing parents with tax money in the form of school vouchers to help pay for their children to attend private or religious schools. Among white, born again, evangelical Christians, support is a lukewarm 49 - 42 percent. By an even larger 59 - 36 percent margin, voters oppose a constitutional amendment to make it easier for the state to provide school vouchers. Even white, born again evangelical Christians oppose such an amendment 48 - 43 percent.

From April 7 - 8, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,215 Florida voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio and the nation as a public service and for research.

For more data -- http://www.quinnipiac.edu/polling.xml, or call (203) 582-5201.

1. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Charlie Crist is handling his job as Governor?
                                                                        WtBrnAgn
                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom     Evnglcl
 
Approve                 59%     62%     57%     60%     62%     57%     55%
Disapprove              25      24      29      24      27      24      28
DK/NA                   15      14      14      16      11      19      17
 
                        North/
                        PnHnd   Bay     Cntrl   SthW    SthE
 
Approve                 56%     62%     50%     71%     64%
Disapprove              28      22      32      15      24
DK/NA                   16      15      19      13      12
 
TREND: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Charlie Crist is handling his job as Governor? * also 73% on 3/29/07
                                                                Highest Lowest
                                                                Approve Approve
                        Apr 10  Oct 24  Sep 11  Jul 19  Jun 6   Jul 19  Apr 10
                        2008    2007    2007    2007    2007    2007*   2008
 
Approve                 59      65      65      73      70      73      59
Disapprove              25      17      17      11      12      11      25
DK/NA                   15      18      18      16      19      16      15
 
 
2. Do you approve or disapprove of the way the state legislature is handling its job?
                                                                        WtBrnAgn
                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom     Evnglcl
 
Approve                 32%     43%     26%     28%     35%     29%     38%
Disapprove              48      38      56      51      50      47      44
DK/NA                   20      19      19      21      16      25      18
 
                        North/
                        PnHnd   Bay     Cntrl   SthW    SthE
 
Approve                 33%     31%     29%     49%     27%
Disapprove              45      49      52      28      52
DK/NA                   22      19      19      23      21
 
TREND: Do you approve or disapprove of the way the state legislature is handling its job?
                                                                Highest Lowest
                                                                Approve Approve
                        Apr 10  Oct 24  Sep 11  Jul 19  Jun 6   Sep 23  Apr 10
                        2008    2007    2007    2007    2007    2004    2008
 
Approve                 32      36      37      39      41      51      32
Disapprove              48      43      43      37      38      34      48
DK/NA                   20      22      20      24      22      15      20
 
 
3. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Bill Nelson is handling his job as United States Senator?
                                                                        WtBrnAgn
                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom     Evnglcl
 
Approve                 49%     38%     60%     49%     47%     50%     47%
Disapprove              25      35      18      22      30      21      25
DK/NA                   26      28      22      29      23      29      28
 
                        North/
                        PnHnd   Bay     Cntrl   SthW    SthE
 
Approve                 46%     53%     51%     34%     50%
Disapprove              30      24      23      29      24
DK/NA                   24      23      26      38      26
 
TREND: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Bill Nelson is handling his job as United States Senator?
                                                                Highest Lowest
                                                                Approve Approve
                        Apr 10  Oct 24  Sep 11  Jul 19  Jun 7   Feb 6   Aug 12
                        2008    2007    2007    2007    2007    2007    2004
 
Approve                 49      48      50      47      47      54      42
Disapprove              25      24      22      26      21      18      18
DK/NA                   26      28      29      27      32      28      40
 
 
4. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Mel Martinez is handling his job as United States Senator?
                                                                        WtBrnAgn
                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom     Evnglcl
 
Approve                 36%     48%     33%     28%     39%     33%     40%
Disapprove              37      28      43      42      40      34      29
DK/NA                   27      25      24      31      21      33      31
 
                        North/
                        PnHnd   Bay     Cntrl   SthW    SthE
 
Approve                 35%     34%     37%     35%     38%
Disapprove              35      36      41      30      37
DK/NA                   31      29      22      36      24
 
TREND: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Mel Martinez is handling his job as United States Senator?
                                                                Highest Lowest
                                                                Approve Approve
                        Apr 10  Oct 24  Sep 11  Jul 19  Jun 7   Feb 6   Oct 24
                        2008    2007    2007    2007    2007    2007    2007
 
Approve                 36      35      38      36      37      48      35
Disapprove              37      34      33      38      34      22      34
DK/NA                   27      31      29      26      30      29      31
 
 
5. In general, how satisfied are you with the way things are going in Florida today? Are you very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied?
                                                                        WtBrnAgn
                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom     Evnglcl
 
Very satisfied           5%      7%      3%      7%      4%      6%      5%
Smwht satisfied         32      41      26      33      35      30      40
Smwht dissatisfied      34      31      36      33      32      36      32
Very dissatisfied       28      20      35      27      28      28      21
DK/NA                    1       1       -       1       1       1       1
 
                        North/
                        PnHnd   Bay     Cntrl   SthW    SthE
 
Very satisfied           2%      7%      5%      8%      5%
Smwht satisfied         41      34      29      40      24
Smwht dissatisfied      33      32      39      31      33
Very dissatisfied       23      27      26      20      37
DK/NA                    1       -       1       1       1
 
TREND: In general, how satisfied are you with the way things are going in Florida today? Are you very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied?
                        Apr 10  Oct 24  Sep 11  Jul 19  Dec 20  Jun 29  May 24
                        2008    2007    2007    2007    2006    2006    2006
 
Very satisfied           5       5       7       8      10      13      15
Smwht satisfied         32      42      40      45      41      45      41
Smwht dissatisfied      34      33      33      33      29      26      25
Very dissatisfied       28      19      18      13      19      16      18
DK/NA                    1       1       1       1       1       1       1
 
 
6. Do you think that Charlie Crist has kept his campaign promises so far or not?
                                                                        WtBrnAgn
                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom     Evnglcl
 
Yes                     51%     58%     46%     51%     53%     50%     53%
No                      33      27      40      32      33      33      28
DK/NA                   16      15      14      17      14      18      19
 
                        North/
                        PnHnd   Bay     Cntrl   SthW    SthE
 
Yes                     51%     58%     44%     64%     48%
No                      28      28      38      21      40
DK/NA                   21      14      17      15      12
 
TREND: Do you think that Charlie Crist has kept his campaign promises so far or not?
                        Apr 10  Oct 24  Sep 11  Feb 6
                        2008    2007    2007    2007
 
Yes                     51      57      55      67
No                      33      24      23       6
DK/NA                   16      19      22      27
 
 
7. There is a proposed constitutional amendment to cap state and local spending at the rate of inflation and population growth, plus 1 percent. How much have you heard or read about this plan? A lot, some, not much or nothing at all?
                                                                        WtBrnAgn
                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom     Evnglcl
 
A lot                    6%      6%      5%      6%      6%      6%      3%
Some                    26      26      24      25      30      22      27
Not much                37      36      41      34      34      39      38
Nothing at all          31      31      29      34      29      33      31
DK/NA                    -       -       1       -       1       -       1
 
                        North/
                        PnHnd   Bay     Cntrl   SthW    SthE
 
A lot                    5%      5%      5%      6%      8%
Some                    31      24      21      27      28
Not much                31      43      41      32      34
Nothing at all          31      29      32      36      30
DK/NA                    2       -       -       -       1
 
 
8. Do you think this constitutional amendment to cap state and local spending is a good idea or a bad idea?
                                                                        WtBrnAgn
                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom     Evnglcl
 
Good idea               50%     62%     42%     49%     56%     45%     57%
Bad idea                31      23      39      31      32      30      22
DK/NA                   19      16      18      20      12      25      21
 
                                                                In Q.7...........
                                                                        Heard
                        North/                                  Heard   Not much/
                        PnHnd   Bay     Cntrl   SthW    SthE    Lot/sm  Nothing
 
Good idea               50%     54%     51%     46%     50%     56%     48%
Bad idea                31      27      30      34      34      33      30
DK/NA                   19      19      20      21      16      11      22
 
 
9. There is also a proposal to reduce property taxes about 25 percent by doing away with local property taxes used to fund public schools. The proposed constitutional amendment would require the funds to be made up, most likely by a one-cent increase in state sales tax and the elimination of some sales-tax exemptions. How much have you heard or read about this plan - A lot, some, not much or nothing at all?
                                                                        WtBrnAgn
                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom     Evnglcl
 
A lot                   25%     25%     22%     24%     29%     20%     20%
Some                    40      42      41      39      34      45      43
Not much                19      17      20      20      18      20      21
Nothing at all          16      15      16      17      18      14      16
DK/NA                    1       -       1       1       -       1       1
 
                        North/
                        PnHnd   Bay     Cntrl   SthW    SthE
 
A lot                   25%     21%     25%     26%     26%
Some                    34      42      41      43      41
Not much                25      21      14      15      21
Nothing at all          16      16      20      16      11
DK/NA                    -       -       -       -       2
 
 
10. Do you think this constitutional amendment to reduce property taxes and increase sales taxes is a good idea or a bad idea?
                                                                        WtBrnAgn
                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom     Evnglcl
 
Good idea               48%     58%     44%     42%     50%     45%     50%
Bad idea                41      32      46      47      41      42      37
DK/NA                   11      10      10      12       8      13      13
 
                                                                In Q.9...........
                                                                        Heard
                        North/                                  Heard   Not much/
                        PnHnd   Bay     Cntrl   SthW    SthE    Lot/sm  Nothing
 
Good idea               50%     53%     39%     50%     49%     50%     44%
Bad idea                42      37      47      39      39      42      40
DK/NA                    7      10      13      11      12       8      16
 
 
11. To help balance the state budget do you think the state legislature should just reduce spending and cut programs or do you think they should also consider raising taxes and closing tax loopholes?
                                                                        WtBrnAgn
                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom     Evnglcl
 
Just cut spending/
 programs               43%     56%     35%     39%     47%     40%     53%
Also raise taxes        41      29      50      45      44      38      32
DK/NA                   16      15      15      15       9      22      14
 
                        North/
                        PnHnd   Bay     Cntrl   SthW    SthE
 
Just cut spending/
 programs               49%     45%     42%     47%     38%
Also raise taxes        40      38      42      41      43
DK/NA                   11      17      16      12      19
 
 
12. Should lawmakers dip into reserves to lessen budget cuts, or should they keep the "rainy day fund" money in the bank?
                                                                        WtBrnAgn
                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom     Evnglcl
 
Dip into reserves       28%     27%     35%     20%     26%     29%     27%
Keep money in bank      61      62      52      71      67      55      61
DK/NA                   12      11      13       9       7      16      12
 
                        North/
                        PnHnd   Bay     Cntrl   SthW    SthE
 
Dip into reserves       24%     28%     28%     21%     32%
Keep money in bank      63      61      60      68      56
DK/NA                   13      11      12      11      12
 
 
13. Governor Crist has proposed increasing legalized gambling in Florida to help finance public education and avoid additional budget cuts? In general do you think this is a good idea or a bad idea?
                                                                        WtBrnAgn
                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom     Evnglcl
 
Good idea               55%     49%     60%     55%     57%     53%     43%
Bad idea                40      47      35      40      39      42      52
DK/NA                    4       4       4       4       4       5       5
 
                        North/
                        PnHnd   Bay     Cntrl   SthW    SthE
 
Good idea               48%     59%     47%     60%     64%
Bad idea                47      39      47      36      31
DK/NA                    5       2       6       3       5
 
 
14. To help balance the state budget and limit budget cuts in healthcare would you support or oppose an increase in the cigarette tax of one dollar per pack?
                                                                        WtBrnAgn
                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom     Evnglcl
 
Support                 69%     67%     71%     70%     63%     74%     67%
Oppose                  29      30      27      28      35      23      31
DK/NA                    2       2       2       2       2       2       2
 
                        North/
                        PnHnd   Bay     Cntrl   SthW    SthE    Smokers  
                                                                         
Support                 65%     63%     63%     79%     79%     30%      
Oppose                  32      35      35      19      18      70       
DK/NA                    2       2       2       1       3       -       
 
 
15. In general do you favor or oppose providing parents with tax money in the form of school vouchers to help pay for their children to attend private or religious schools?
                                                                        WtBrnAgn
                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom     Evnglcl
 
Favor                   41%     51%     34%     38%     48%     35%     49%
Oppose                  54      44      62      58      49      59      42
DK/NA                    5       5       3       4       3       6       8
 
                        North/                                  HvKids
                        PnHnd   Bay     Cntrl   SthW    SthE    PubSch
                                                                      
Favor                   47%     37%     44%     42%     36%     50%   
Oppose                  48      57      51      54      60      46    
DK/NA                    5       6       5       5       3       3  
 
 
16. Would you favor or oppose a constitutional amendment that would make it easier for the state to provide public funds for vouchers to private or religious schools?
                                                                        WtBrnAgn
                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom     Evnglcl
 
Favor                   36%     46%     29%     31%     42%     31%     43%
Oppose                  59      49      67      63      53      64      48
DK/NA                    5       5       4       5       5       5       9
 
                        North/                                  HvKids
                        PnHnd   Bay     Cntrl   SthW    SthE    PubSch
                                                                      
Favor                   37%     32%     35%     52%     34%     48%   
Oppose                  56      62      60      45      63      48    
DK/NA                    7       6       5       3       3       4
 
 
17. Population growth in Florida has dropped sharply to 1 percent. In general do you think that this smaller population growth rate is a good thing for Florida or a bad thing?
                                                                        WtBrnAgn
                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom     Evnglcl
 
Good thing              64%     65%     59%     71%     67%     63%     60%
Bad thing               27      28      34      19      26      28      32
DK/NA                    8       7       7      10       7       9       8
 
                        North/
                        PnHnd   Bay     Cntrl   SthW    SthE
 
Good thing              73%     66%     63%     63%     58%
Bad thing               20      27      28      32      31
DK/NA                    7       7       9       4      11
 
 
18. Do you currently smoke cigarettes?
                                                                        WtBrnAgn
                        Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom     Evnglcl
 
Yes                     17%     12%     19%     20%     19%     15%     19%
No                      83      88      81      80      81      85      81
DK/NA                    -       -       -       -       -       -       -
 
                        North/
                        PnHnd   Bay     Cntrl   SthW    SthE
 
Yes                     16%     17%     24%     12%     12%
No                      84      82      76      88      88
DK/NA                    -       -       -       -       -