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Florida voters hold environmental issue as high priority, poll shows

PPP survey found effective messaging for climate change.

As presidential candidates plan to take the debate stage in Florida, a new poll shows where voters’ priorities lay.

The League of Conservation Voters released a poll showing a majority of Florida voters ranking climate change and clean energy as high priorities.

The Public Policy Polling survey shows 57 percent of all Florida voters consider environmental and climate issues are “important.”

Of those, 19 percent list the matters as the “most important issue.” Another 38 percent list it as “very important” and 22 percent list the issue as “somewhat important.”

The same poll shows 58 percent of the state’s electorate in favor of moving to a completely clean energy economy by 2050. Just 21 percent of respondents opposed such a plan.

Notably, the strongest support could be found among independent voters, where 63 percent favor the move to clean energy and just 14 percent opposed it.

As for the current administration’s environmental agenda, voters voiced displeasure.

President Donald Trump’s approval ratings were underwater in the PPP poll. Some 50 percent expressed disapproval of Trump’s job performance and 45 percent voiced approval.

But on climate issues, 51 percent voiced disapproval and just 37 percent said the president was doing a good job on the environment. Among independents, 61 percent disapprove of Trump’s environmental record and only 24 percent approve.

Beyond presidential politics, 80 percent of those polled want rules restored stopping polluters from releasing toxins in the air and water. Only 11 percent oppose that.

Some 64 percent of voters want a national clean energy standard requiring a majority of Florida electricity coming from renewable energy.

PPP also surveyed the effectiveness of various environmental messaging approaches with voters.

On that front, 62 percent of voters were swayed by arguments citing pollution’s contributions to algal blooms. About 43 percent found that a “very convincing” argument, including 49 percent of independents.

That’s unsurprising considering recent troubles with red tide and blue-green algae.

Arguments about sea-level rise and more regular 500-year flood events sounded “convincing” to 58 percent of voters; 43 percent found the argument “very convincing.”

Heath risks like increased asthma attacks made for a moving argument to 56 percent of voters. The idea China is starting to pull ahead of the U.S. in climate response sounded convincing to 55 percent of voters.

The least convincing argument came in noting more than 3,000 deaths from climate-related disasters. But that still proved convincing to 53 percent of voters in hurricane-prone Florida.

Notably, PPP has a long history as a Democratic polling firm, but FiveThirtyEight gives the outlet a grade of B and has found results show only a slight bias.

The survey collected responses from 679 Florida voters from June 14 through 16, and pollsters report a 3.8 percent margin of error.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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