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Study: Floridians don't want guns on campus, are split on Medicaid expansion


Floridians are pretty well split in agreement on a number of hot button issues — Medicaid expansion, Common Core and off-shore oil drilling. But as the Legislature prepares for a January legislative session and reelection campaigns not long after, they may want to think about areas of widespread agreement.

A massive statewide poll released Monday by University of South Florida researchers shows that more than seven in 10 adult Floridians want to allow police to wear body cameras, have stricter water quality regulations, continue banning concealed guns on college campuses.

It’s the first of four sets of data that will be released this month by USF and Nielsen in their annual Sunshine State Survey.

USF Professor Susan MacManus, who runs the survey, said Tuesday that elected officials and advocacy groups should pay attention to the data because it shows how Floridians’ opinions are changing over time.

“The diversity of people moving into this state is obviously moving opinions into a more liberal direction,” MacManus said. “You have to constantly be looking at changes in opinions.”

One of the biggest changes in opinions: Less and less, people consider the economy and jobs to be the most important issue in Florida. Just 22 percent of respondents said so this year, compared to 30 percent last year and 52 percent in 2011.

A number of issues in the portion of the survey released this week are likely to come up during the legislative session, which begins in January. Early committee hearings have already begun.

On that list of hot topics is allowing concealed handguns on college campuses, where they are currently banned. According to the survey, 73 percent of Floridians oppose allowing guns on campuses, compared to just 17 percent who are in favor. Another gun-rights issue (the Stand Your Ground Law) is more divisive, with 30 percent wanting to repeal the law and 41 percent wanting it on the books.

Nine in 10 Floridians support police body cameras. Last spring, legislation to require them was watered down and then did not pass the Legislature.

Sixty percent of Floridians want more school vouchers. Two-thirds want stricter environmental regulations. Seventy-two percent want stricter water quality regulations.