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Herald poll: Near majority of voters say they're hurting

If you think you've had it rough, you're not alone. The tumultuous economy has 43 percent of Florida voters reporting that their personal economic situation has gotten worse in the past two years, while another 43 percent say it has stayed the same, according to a new Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times/Bay News 9 poll.

The survey of 800 likely voters was taken from Sunday through Wednesday and one-third of the interviews took place before the events of Black Monday, when Lehman Brothers announced its bankruptcy and the federal government announced its buyout of insurance giant AIG.

The voters who say they are in worse shape: blacks, 65 percent; voters with only high school degrees, 51 percent; and working women, with 48 percent. South Florida and Tampa Bay are the regions where more voters reported experiencing the most economic stress. Only 13 percent said their financial situation has gotten better.

But while Floridians are unsettled by the economy, they are inherently optimistic about the future: 46 percent expect that things won't get much worse and 35 percent expect them to get better.

''People have a better opinion of their own financial situation than they do the national one,'' said Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster and president of The Polling Company, which conducted the poll with Democratic pollster Tom Eldon of Schroth, Eldon & Associates.

''There's some optimism because a fair number of people feel they have a bit of control over their kitchen table economics, while the macro-economy is out of their hands,'' Conway said.

More information on The Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times/Bay News 9 poll will be released on Saturday and Sunday.