Florida voters support extending $600 unemployment relief

Closed due to coronavirus sign on defocused empty restaurant room
Poll says Congress should help workers, small businesses.

A majority of Florida voters wants Congress to extend or even increase the $600-per-week federal coronavirus crisis unemployment benefits, while only a small minority want Congress to end those benefits, according to a new poll.

A majority also want to see Congress extend – though perhaps adjust first – the federal Paycheck Protection Program that provided forgivable loans to small businesses hurt by the coronavirus crisis, according to a new poll released Wednesday by Public Policy Polling.

Both the unemployment benefits and the small business loans program were approved in March in the first federal coronavirus crisis bailout package, the CARES Act. Renewals of both are on the table now, as House Democrats, Senate Republicans, and the White House engage in slow and sometimes hostile negotiations over a new round of federal relief. Democrats and Republicans agree in principle on the need for a new economic stimulus package, but are fighting over such details.

Florida voters generally want them both to continue.

Public Policy Polling surveyed 609 Florida voters on July 31, on behalf of Accountable.US, with 59% of the interviews being done through text messages and 41% through phone calls. The poll has a margin of error of 4%.

According to the survey, 41% of Florida voters say Congress should continue offering the $600 a week unemployment checks, and another 14% would like to see the amount increased. Another 24% said they want to see the checks continue, but for a lesser amount, and only 15% said they want to see the checks discontinued.

The coronavirus crisis crashed the economy in March. Is there agreement on why people are still unemployed?

The survey found 36% of Florida voters believe it’s because workers don’t feel safe going back to work yet in the pandemic; and 27% think it’s most likely because there simply aren’t enough jobs anymore. Many opponents of the $600 a week check have argued businesses contend it’s tough to lure people back to their jobs when they’re getting that much money in unemployment. But only 28% of the Florida voters surveyed believe that is the most responsible reason.

One of the more interesting demographic points teased out in the poll is of Florida voters who are currently unemployed because of the coronavirus crisis. Of all respondents, 25% said they or someone in their household is out of work.

Among those unemployed, 38% said they don’t feel safe going back to work yet during the pandemic, 32% said there simply are not enough jobs available and 17% said it’s because they’d rather live on the $600-a-week relief checks.

Only 9% of Florida voters think the Paycheck Protection Program should end. But the rest were split over whether it should be continued as it has been this spring and summer, or if it needs tinkering or a complete overhaul, based on reports of some prosperous businesses taking the money. In the poll, 10% said Congress should extend it as is, 47% recommended it be revised to give more priority to small businesses most in need and 34% think Congress should start over with a new program “that is more transparent and focuses on helping small businesses most in need.”

The surveyed voters don’t see workers and families as a top priority for the Trump administration and Congress with 33% believing Washington’s top priority represents campaign donors and other wealthy special interests. Another 26% believe workers and families are the top priority, 21% say large corporations are and 7% believe small businesses are the government’s top priority.

A whopping 74% “strongly agree” that Congress should prioritize struggling workers and small businesses over bailouts for corporations or other wealthy interests, and 14% “somewhat agree” with that statement. Another 3% “strongly disagree” and 4% “somewhat disagree.”

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


  • DisplacedCTYankee

    August 6, 2020 at 4:51 am

    Another meaningless poll. 609 people polled out of 20 million. 59 per cent polled by text message — what about people who do not “do” text messaging? The rest polled by “phone” — landline or cell phone?

  • jon

    August 6, 2020 at 9:24 pm

    VOTE? Where did we vote! Oh that’s right, the Democrats fake polls so they can sway politics! They want to keep paying the losers to stay home so will not go back to work and return our economy to Trump GREATNESS!

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