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Voters don't like Scott's ideas on higher ed, won't legalize pot, but shift on marriage

Gov. Rick Scott can't seem to read the Florida electorate right these days. His latest suggestions for treating different colleges and students differently on education reform are unpopular, even more unpopular than he is, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll of Florida voters. Also unpopular are the Board of Education ideas to give students of different races different achievement goals.

Here's the release:

    Florida voters are dead-set against a series of recommendations made by state officials regarding education, with the largest opposition, 71 – 7 percent, against a plan to set different achievement goals for students of different races, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

    Registered voters also strongly oppose, 66 – 26 percent, charging lower tuition to college students who major in subjects such as math, science, engineering and computers that lead to higher-paying jobs, and higher tuition for liberal arts majors, considered less employable, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.

    Voters also oppose, 73 – 16 percent, the idea of allowing some public universities dubbed as “preeminent” to charge higher tuition that other state colleges.

    Turning to public employee pensions, voters say 53 – 34 percent that it’s a good idea to make new state employees participate in a 401-k type retirement plan rather than the defined-benefit plan offered to current state workers.

    Opposition to race-based education goals is 73 – 7 percent among white voters, 63 – 11 percent among black voters and 67 – 7 percent among Hispanic voters.   Voters with children in public schools oppose the measure 69 – 10 percent.

    “Voters, with little difference along political, racial or gender lines, find setting different goals for different races to be distasteful,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. 

    “The data from this survey finds that voters like the idea of treating all students and colleges the same.”

    Florida voters also oppose 62 – 27 percent charging lower tuition rates for freshmen and sophomores than for juniors and seniors.

    They are also quite skeptical of Gov. Rick Scott’s challenge to the state’s colleges and universities to offer some four-year degrees for a total of $10,000.  Only 29 percent think it is very or somewhat likely to occur, while 66 percent say it is not very likely or not likely at all to materialize.

    Interestingly, while voters seem strongly behind the idea of treating all schools and students equally, when it comes to education, they have a different view about state workers.   

    The majority who like the idea of creating a two-tiered retirement system for state workers shows little difference by gender, with 55 percent of men and 52 percent of women thinking it is a good idea.  But the political divisions are wider:  Support is 69 – 20 percent among Republicans and 52 – 36 percent among independent voters, while Democrats are opposed 46 – 40 percent.   Voters in union households are opposed 57 – 34 percent.

Same-Sex Marriage
    Florida voters are changing their minds about same-sex marriage.  They opposed this idea 50 – 40 percent in a May 23 Quinnipiac University poll.  Today, voters are divided with 43 percent in favor and 45 percent opposed.  Men are opposed 48 – 40 percent while women are divided with 45 percent supporting same-sex marriage and 43 percent opposed.

    White Catholic voters support same-sex marriage 47 – 40 percent while white Protestants are opposed 63 – 28 percent.  Voters 18 to 29 years old support it 66 – 23 percent.
Floridians are less supportive of legalizing personal use of marijuana than the rest of the country. A bare majority of voters, 51 – 44 percent, told a recent Quinnipiac University national poll it supported the idea.  But Florida voters oppose it 52 – 42 percent.   

    From December 11 – 17, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,261 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points.  Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.

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