Before toilet paper shortages became a meme, most shoppers didn’t think twice about where the produce and products that line store shelves came from.
Now that “coronavirus,” “lockdown” and “COVID-19” are the most-searched words on Google and a trip to Publix means donning a mask and waiting for the shopping cart grips to get wiped down, things have changed.
A new survey from St. Pete Polls found that Florida voters are keenly aware of — and thankful for — the farmers churning out produce, the truckers who deliver it, and the risks facing the baggers, clerks and cashiers who staff grocery stores.
The pollster found that 81% of Floridians approve of the job Florida farmers are doing in the face of adversity brought by restaurant closures wreaking havoc on their bottom lines. Only 5% disapprove, with the balance being unsure.
The margins shifted slightly based on party affiliation, with Republicans being the most pro-farmer bloc with an 86%-3% approval rating. Third- and no-party voters followed at 82%-5%. Democrats trailed slightly, with a 77%-6% spread.
Truckers fared even better, scoring 83% approval, with 14% unsure and a mere 3% expressing disapproval.
The partisan breakdown was in the same order, though a bit tighter. The approve/disapprove levels were 85%-2% among Republicans, 83%-3% among independents and 81%-3% among Democrats.
But it was grocery store employees who earned the most universal praise, with well over nine in 10 respondents saying they had emerged as the unsung heroes of the coronavirus crisis.
In nearly every demographic tracked by St. Pete Polls — party, race, gender, age and media market — grocery store employees enjoyed approval ratings rivaling those of health care workers and first responders.
The Pensacola market was particularly appreciative, expressing approval by a 96%-2% margin. Despite being the polar opposite of Northwest Florida in the political realm, West Palm Beach was in lockstep with a 95%-2% spread.
Statewide, 94% of registered Republicans, 92% of registered Democrats and 91% of independent voters approve of grocery store employees.
St. Pete Polls surveyed 3,146 registered Florida voters from May 12-13. The top-line results have a margin of error of plus or minus 1.7 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.