Floridians are split along party lines on the question of whether the vaccine for COVID-19 is safe and effective, as public health officials say, according to a statewide University of South Florida survey that also measured a number of other public issues.
Nearly three-quarters of Floridians told researchers they are either very or somewhat confident in the vaccine guidance public health officials offer, but there’s a marked split about this medical issue along party lines, according to a USF news release. Confidence is highest among Democrats (86.1%), followed by Independents (70.7%), while only half of Republican respondents said they were very or somewhat confident in public health officials’ advice on the vaccine.
The survey found that Florida’s handling of the COVID-19 virus — contrasting with most other states by reopening sooner and vaccinating seniors first — has been even more of a polarizing issue between Democrats and Republicans. No clear majority deemed Florida’s handling of the health care crisis better or worse than other states: 42% said “better” and 34.3% said “worse” and 18.8% said “just about the same” But ask Democrats, and a majority (54.4%) said it was handled worse, compared to 11.6% of Republicans. Sixty-eight percent of Republicans said COVID-19 was handled better in Florida than other states, compared to 23% of Democrats.
The survey, conducted between July 15 and Sunday, found that Floridians still view COVID-19 as the most important issue, with 29% choosing it as the most important. That view is held by both Democrats and Republicans, with 38% of Democrats choosing it as most important, along with 22% of Republicans and 32% of Independents.
The economy ranked a distant second, with 13.3% choosing that as the most important issue.
Most Floridians approve of the job that both President Joe Biden and Gov. Ron DeSantis are doing. On the COVID-19 pandemic, 61% approve of Biden’s handling while 52% approve of DeSantis’ approach to it. On jobs and the economy, DeSantis has a 60% approval rating, and Biden has 53% approval.
Those questions also show splits between Democrats and Republicans.
The survey also showed:
— Respondents favor additional relief for student loan borrowers, with two-thirds saying that the temporary pause on student loan repayments should be extended by the Biden administration: 28% favor extending the pause until the end of 2021, while 39% say that it should be extended into 2022.
— Strong support for federal investments in infrastructure now being debated in Congress. Seven in 10 (72%) respondents indicated support for passage of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure framework: 35% “strongly support” the bill’s passage, while 37% are at least “somewhat” supportive. Support was highest among Democrats, though a majority from both parties are in favor of the bill, according to a news release from the University of South Florida.
— A majority of Floridians would support a ban on ransomware payments. After numerous ransomware attacks against local governments in Florida, over half of Floridians (56%) say they would support a state-level ban on paying ransoms to cyber-attackers.
The survey included a representative sample of 600 Floridians, targeting people based on location, age, gender and race that mirror the state as a whole. The survey has a margin of error, plus or minus 4%, according to USF officials.