January 22, 2009 - Florida Voters Want Bright Futures Scholarships 4-1, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Voters Oppose Law Banning Gay Adoption

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By an overwhelming 72 - 17 percent margin Florida voters oppose any cuts in the state's "Bright Futures" college scholarship program despite the budget crisis, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Democrats oppose the cuts 78 - 13 percent, as do Republicans 69 - 18 percent and independent voters 71 - 17 percent.

Voters support 71 - 26 percent raising the cigarette tax an additional $1 a pack, the independent Quinnipiac (KIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.

The survey also finds that Floridians oppose 55 - 39 percent a state law that prohibits homosexuals from adopting children. Republicans support the law 52 - 43 percent, as do White Evangelical Christians 58 - 37 percent. Democrats oppose the law 61 - 32 percent, along with independent voters 60 - 34 percent.

Gays should be allowed to marry, 27 percent of voters say, while 35 percent favor civil unions but not marriage and 31 percent say there should be no legal recognition of gay unions.

The Bright Futures program, funded by proceeds from the state lottery, has grown dramatically in recent years. It pays up to 100 percent of tuition and fees at any public university in Florida for students who qualify based on their high school grades and test scores.

"There may be a lot of opinion leaders talking about the need to reign in Bright Futures because of its cost in these times of tight budgets, but it is hard to imagine a less popular idea for cuts with the voting public," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"When 85 percent of voters think the program is a good thing and more than three out of four oppose cutting its funding, that pretty much makes it a political non-starter," Brown added. "Even Republicans opposed cuts by almost 4 - 1."

Voters oppose 54 - 32 percent trying to save money by raising test and grade standards so fewer students receive the scholarships. By a smaller 50 - 42 percent margin, voters oppose giving the scholarships only to students whose family income is below a certain level.

Smokers are the only group opposed to the possible cigarette tax hike, 64 - 34 percent. There is little difference among Republicans, Democrats and independents on the question. When voters are then asked the same question and told the money would go for public health programs, support rises slightly to 77 - 21 percent.

Looking at the possible effects of a cigarette tax hike, Florida voters say:
  • 65 percent that it would be "very effective" or "somewhat effective" in discouraging young people from smoking;
  • 50 percent that it would be "very effective" or "somewhat effective" in reducing smoking among current smokers;
  • 58 percent that it would be "very effective" or "somewhat effective" in reducing state costs for medical care.
And 49 percent of smokers say they would cut down or quit if taxes are raised.

"Voters generally are opposed to raising taxes, even in order to balance the budget, but they seem to make an exception for cigarette taxes," said Brown. "Given the public support, even normally anti-tax lawmakers might see this as a politically acceptable notion to the voting public.

"Interestingly, the public is split on whether raising cigarette taxes will lead to fewer people smoking, although they think it would be effective in reducing smoking among young people," Brown said. "They do think, however, it might reduce the state's medical costs. Voters don't see hiking cigarette taxes as unfair to smokers; they seem to view it as a user fee."

From January 14 - 19, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,370 Florida voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.7 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.

24. How much have you heard or read about Florida's lottery funded college scholarship program called Bright Futures - A lot, some, not much or nothing at all?
                                                               WtBrnAgn
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Evnglcl
 
A lot                23%    26%    22%    23%    21%    25%    21%
Some                 30     30     31     28     30     30     32
Not much             21     20     19     26     24     19     23
Nothing at all       25     24     27     21     25     25     24
DK/NA                 1      1      1      1      -      1      -
 
                     North/
                     PnHnd  Bay    Cntrl  SthW   SthE
 
A lot                27%    22%    23%    24%    21%
Some                 30     28     27     30     34
Not much             15     22     25     18     23
Nothing at all       27     27     24     27     20
DK/NA                 1      1      -      -      1
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  NoColl College
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Degree Degree
 
A lot                33%    32%    16%    18%    31%    32%    19%    35%
Some                 30     28     31     28     28     40     28     34
Not much             17     19     22     23     23     17     23     16
Nothing at all       18     20     30     29     18     11     29     14
DK/NA                 2      1      1      2      -      -      1      -
 
 
25. As you may be aware, the merit based Bright Futures program helps pay college tuition for Florida students who meet required high school grades and S.A.T. test scores. Do you think the Bright Futures scholarship program is a good thing or a bad thing for Florida?
                                                               WtBrnAgn
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Evnglcl
 
Good thing           85%    82%    88%    86%    84%    86%    86%
Bad thing             6      6      4      6      7      5      3
DK/NA                10     11      7      9     10     10     11
 
                     North/                             HvKids Heard a lot
                     PnHnd  Bay    Cntrl  SthW   SthE   <18    or some Q24
 
Good thing           86%    84%    88%    82%    83%    88%    92%
Bad thing             8      5      5      6      5      6      6
DK/NA                 7     11      8     12     12      7      2
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  NoColl College
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Degree Degree
 
Good thing           87%    90%    82%    86%    86%    81%    85%    84%
Bad thing             4      7      5      5      5     10      5      7
DK/NA                 9      3     13      9      8      9     10      8
 
 
26. Some have suggested reducing state funding to the Bright Futures scholarship program. In general do you support or oppose reducing funding to the Bright Futures program?
                                                               WtBrnAgn
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Evnglcl
 
Support              17%    18%    13%    17%    20%    14%    17%
Oppose               72     69     78     71     69     74     71
DK/NA                12     13      9     12     11     12     11
 
                     North/                             HvKids Heard a lot
                     PnHnd  Bay    Cntrl  SthW   SthE   <18    or some Q24
 
Support              18%    21%    15%    16%    14%    13%    15%
Oppose               74     68     75     70     71     77     81
DK/NA                 8     11     10     14     15      9      4
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  NoColl College
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Degree Degree
 
Support               8%    17%    20%    17%    14%    14%    17%    16%
Oppose               85     77     65     71     76     76     71     74
DK/NA                 7      6     15     11     10     10     12     10
 
 
27. To help lower the cost of the Bright Futures Scholarship program Do you support or oppose - Raising the required level of high school grades and S.A.T. test scores so that fewer students would qualify for scholarship money?
                                                               WtBrnAgn
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Evnglcl
 
Support              32%    37%    30%    32%    37%    28%    33%
Oppose               54     48     59     55     51     58     53
DK/NA                13     15     11     13     12     14     14
 
                     North/                             HvKids Heard a lot
                     PnHnd  Bay    Cntrl  SthW   SthE   <18    or some Q24
 
Support              28%    35%    31%    28%    37%    29%    31%
Oppose               61     54     56     52     50     56     62
DK/NA                11     11     13     20     13     15      7
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  NoColl College
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Degree Degree
 
Support              25%    35%    33%    31%    33%    39%    33%    32%
Oppose               64     55     51     58     54     48     54     55
DK/NA                11     10     16     11     13     13     13     13
 
 
28. To help lower the cost of the Bright Futures Scholarship program Do you support or oppose - Only giving scholarship money to students whose family income is below a certain level?
                                                               WtBrnAgn
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Evnglcl
 
Support              42%    37%    45%    47%    46%    39%    41%
Oppose               50     57     46     45     47     52     50
DK/NA                 8      6      9      8      7      9      9
 
                     North/                             HvKids Heard a lot
                     PnHnd  Bay    Cntrl  SthW   SthE   <18    or some Q24
 
Support              44%    37%    43%    47%    43%    32%    42%
Oppose               47     56     50     39     50     60     53
DK/NA                 9      6      7     14      7      8      5
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  NoColl College
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Degree Degree
 
Support              33%    41%    44%    47%    36%    41%    44%    38%
Oppose               66     51     45     46     57     55     47     55
DK/NA                 1      8     10      7      7      4      9      7
 
 
29. To help lower the cost of the Bright Futures Scholarship program Do you support or oppose - Reducing the amount of scholarship money given to each student?
                                                               WtBrnAgn
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Evnglcl
 
Support              22%    29%    19%    19%    24%    21%    25%
Oppose               62     53     67     64     61     62     58
DK/NA                16     18     14     17     15     17     18
 
                     North/                             HvKids Heard a lot
                     PnHnd  Bay    Cntrl  SthW   SthE   <18    or some Q24
 
Support              21%    20%    24%    21%    23%    29%    20%
Oppose               68     61     59     59     61     55     70
DK/NA                11     19     17     20     16     16     10
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  NoColl College
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Degree Degree
 
Support              22%    21%    22%    22%    23%    23%    21%    24%
Oppose               63     68     59     67     58     61     62     61
DK/NA                15     10     20     11     19     16     17     14
 
 
30. Do you think same-sex couples should be allowed legally to marry, should be allowed legally to form civil unions but not marry, or should not be allowed to obtain legal recognition of their relationships?
                                                               WtBrnAgn
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Evnglcl
 
Marry                27%    13%    36%    31%    28%    27%    10%
Civil unions         35     39     28     39     33     36     34
No recognition       31     44     28     24     33     30     52
DK/NA                 7      5      8      7      6      7      5
 
                     North/
                     PnHnd  Bay    Cntrl  SthW   SthE
 
Marry                19%    20%    29%    27%    38%
Civil unions         30     38     32     38     37
No recognition       45     36     30     27     19
DK/NA                 6      6      9      8      6
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  NoColl College
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Degree Degree
 
Marry                39%    26%    24%    25%    29%    35%    24%    35%
Civil unions         34     33     36     30     38     43     32     42
No recognition       24     33     32     39     25     17     37     18
DK/NA                 3      8      7      7      8      4      7      5
 
TREND: Do you think same-sex couples should be allowed legally to marry, should be allowed legally to form civil unions, but not marry, or should not be allowed to obtain legal recognition of their relationships?
                     Jan 22  Sep 8   Aug 8
                     2009    2008    2007
 
Marry                27      27      27
Civil unions         35      35      29
No recognition       31      31      35
DK/NA                 7       6       9
 
 
31. Florida law bans gay or lesbian individuals and couples from adopting children. Do you approve or disapprove of this law?
                                                               WtBrnAgn
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Evnglcl
 
Approve              39%    52%    32%    34%    41%    37%    58%
Disapprove           55     43     61     60     53     56     37
DK/NA                 6      5      7      6      6      7      5
 
                     North/
                     PnHnd  Bay    Cntrl  SthW   SthE
 
Approve              44%    39%    41%    43%    30%
Disapprove           50     53     53     51     64
DK/NA                 5      8      6      6      6
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  NoColl College
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Degree Degree
 
Approve              31%    37%    42%    42%    35%    36%    42%    31%
Disapprove           63     57     52     52     58     60     52     64
DK/NA                 6      6      6      6      7      4      7      5
 
 
32. Florida's cigarette tax is now 34 cents a pack. Some legislators and public health groups are suggesting raising the cigarette tax an additional dollar a pack. Do you support or oppose raising cigarette taxes in Florida one dollar a pack?
                                                               WtBrnAgn
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Evnglcl
 
Support              71%    66%    72%    74%    68%    73%    62%
Oppose               26     31     24     23     30     23     37
DK/NA                 3      3      4      2      3      4      1
 
                     North/
                     PnHnd  Bay    Cntrl  SthW   SthE   Smokers Q38
 
Support              69%    65%    68%    57%    84%    34%
Oppose               27     32     27     40     15     64
DK/NA                 4      3      5      3      1      2
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  NoColl College
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Degree Degree
 
Support              84%    64%    69%    66%    73%    79%    68%    78%
Oppose               15     31     28     31     24     19     29     20
DK/NA                 1      5      3      3      4      2      4      2
 
 
33. Would you support or oppose raising the cigarette tax one dollar a pack if the money was used for health care programs?
                                                               WtBrnAgn
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Evnglcl
 
Support              77%    69%    82%    78%    74%    79%    66%
Oppose               21     25     17     20     24     18     29
DK/NA                 3      6      2      1      2      3      5
 
                     North/
                     PnHnd  Bay    Cntrl  SthW   SthE   Smokers Q38
 
Support              73%    71%    77%    64%    88%    46%
Oppose               23     26     21     34     11     52
DK/NA                 4      4      3      2      1      2
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  NoColl College
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Degree Degree
 
Support              86%    73%    75%    75%    77%    82%    75%    81%
Oppose               10     24     23     22     20     17     22     17
DK/NA                 4      2      3      3      3      1      3      2
 
 
34. How effective do you think a one dollar increase in the cigarette tax would be in reducing smoking among current smokers - very effective, somewhat effective, not too effective, or not effective at all?
                                                               WtBrnAgn
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Evnglcl
 
Very effective       13%    11%    17%     9%     9%    15%     7%
Smwht effective      37     31     40     41     37     38     38
Not too effective    26     32     21     28     32     22     28
Not effective        22     25     20     21     21     23     25
DK/NA                 2      1      2      2      2      2      2
 
                     North/
                     PnHnd  Bay    Cntrl  SthW   SthE   Smokers Q38
 
Very effective       13%    13%    13%     6%    14%    14%
Smwht effective      34     35     37     43     40     26
Not too effective    27     25     29     23     26     30
Not effective        23     26     20     27     18     28
DK/NA                 4      1      1      2      1      2
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  NoColl College
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Degree Degree
 
Very effective       18%     9%    12%    15%     7%    11%    13%    10%
Smwht effective      35     37     40     34     44     36     37     40
Not too effective    35     29     22     25     29     29     25     29
Not effective         9     24     25     23     20     22     23     20
DK/NA                 3      1      2      2      1      1      2      1
 
 
35. How effective do you think a one dollar increase in the cigarette tax would be in discouraging young people from starting to smoke - very effective, somewhat effective, not too effective, or not effective at all?
                                                               WtBrnAgn
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Evnglcl
 
Very effective       23%    20%    30%    18%    20%    25%    22%
Smwht effective      42     41     40     46     41     42     42
Not too effective    15     17     13     16     16     14     14
Not effective        20     21     17     19     22     18     22
DK/NA                 1      -      -      1      -      1      -
 
                     North/
                     PnHnd  Bay    Cntrl  SthW   SthE   Smokers Q38
 
Very effective       20%    22%    24%    17%    27%    23%
Smwht effective      42     44     40     41     41     32
Not too effective    16     13     18     15     13     14
Not effective        21     21     17     26     18     30
DK/NA                 -      -      -      2      1      -
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  NoColl College
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Degree Degree
 
Very effective       29%    19%    24%    26%    20%    17%    24%    20%
Smwht effective      38     41     43     40     46     44     41     44
Not too effective    21     15     14     13     14     19     13     19
Not effective        12     26     19     20     20     19     21     17
DK/NA                 -      -      1      1      -      -      1      1
 
 
36. How effective do you think a one dollar increase in the cigarette tax would be inreducing the states costs for medical care to smokers - very effective, somewhat effective, not too effective, or not effective at all?
                                                               WtBrnAgn
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Evnglcl
 
Very effective       15%    10%    21%    12%    14%    16%    11%
Smwht effective      43     41     43     46     44     43     45
Not too effective    20     23     19     19     22     17     17
Not effective        19     23     14     19     18     20     23
DK/NA                 3      2      4      4      2      4      4
 
                     North/
                     PnHnd  Bay    Cntrl  SthW   SthE   Smokers Q38
 
Very effective       20%    12%    12%    14%    18%    16%
Smwht effective      39     45     43     39     47     33
Not too effective    17     15     24     22     19     18
Not effective        21     24     18     21     12     31
DK/NA                 3      3      3      4      3      2
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  NoColl College
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Degree Degree
 
Very effective       19%    13%    16%    18%    12%    10%    16%    13%
Smwht effective      47     39     44     40     47     52     40     50
Not too effective    23     23     16     18     21     21     19     21
Not effective        11     23     19     20     18     15     21     13
DK/NA                 -      3      5      5      2      1      4      2
 
 
37. Regardless of whether you personally favor or oppose an increase in the tax on cigarettes, overall do you think an increase in this tax is fair or unfair to smokers?
                                                               WtBrnAgn
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Evnglcl
 
Fair                 52%    48%    57%    55%    49%    56%    48%
Unfair               43     47     39     39     47     39     48
DK/NA                 5      5      5      6      4      5      4
 
                     North/
                     PnHnd  Bay    Cntrl  SthW   SthE   Smokers Q38
 
Fair                 49%    46%    54%    43%    62%    29%
Unfair               46     50     42     48     33     70
DK/NA                 5      4      4      9      4      1
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  NoColl College
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Degree Degree
 
Fair                 62%    52%    48%    49%    54%    60%    50%    57%
Unfair               37     44     46     47     41     37     44     39
DK/NA                 2      4      6      5      4      3      5      4
 
 
38. Do you currently smoke cigarettes?
                                                               WtBrnAgn
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Evnglcl
 
Yes                  16%    16%    17%    14%    16%    16%    19%
No                   84     84     83     86     84     84     81
DK/NA                 -      -      -      -      -      -      -
 
                     North/
                     PnHnd  Bay    Cntrl  SthW   SthE
 
Yes                  20%    18%    15%    16%    11%
No                   79     82     85     84     89
DK/NA                 0      -      -      -      -
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  NoColl College
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Degree Degree
 
Yes                  16%    22%    13%    22%    14%     7%    19%     8%
No                   84     78     87     78     86     93     81     92
DK/NA                 -      -      -      -      -      -      -      -
 
 
39. (Smokers q38) If cigarette taxes are raised one dollar per pack, do you think it would cause you to cut down on your smoking, quit smoking altogether or would it have no effect on your smoking?
                     SMOKERS Q38......
                     Tot    Men    Wom
 
Cut down             30%    36%    25%
Quit                 19     16     22
No effect            50     46     53
DK/NA                 1      1      -