Housing costs top issue for Floridians, support high for recreational marijuana, abortion amendments: UNF poll

A new statewide poll found that the cost of housing is the most important problem facing Florida right now.

The poll from the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab (PORL) found 26% of the more than 700 registered voters asked said affordable housing was a top issue, followed by the economy, jobs and inflation with 25%.

READ: Full results of UNF PORL poll

Home prices in Florida have increased 42% since 2019, according to Realtor.com. That is causing some to look for less expensive options in states like Tennessee, the Carolinas or just across the border in Georgia.

When it comes to housing costs, the “Live Local Act” took effect in July. It gives incentives for private investment into affordable housing, creates tax exemptions for developments that put at least 70 units aside for affordable housing and prevents local rent control.

RELATED: Gov. DeSantis signs bill aimed at addressing affordable housing crisis in Florida

Education and immigration are tied for the third most important problem, with 9% each.

Respondents were also asked about what many are calling a property insurance crisis happening in the state.

RELATED: Northeast Florida home prices remain historically unaffordable; housing market sees major seasonal slowdown: report

When it comes to who they think is responsible for the issue, 33% said they believe insurance companies bear the greatest responsibility, followed by individuals and lawyers defrauding or exploiting insurance companies in a distant second place with 15%. Gov. Ron DeSantis and an increase in natural disasters each garnered 13%. Twelve percent indicated the Florida Legislature is to blame.

“In the last year, housing costs, and now property insurance, have emerged as pressing issues to Floridians,” PORL faculty director and professor of political science Dr. Michael Binder said in a news release. “Insurance companies are most responsible in the minds of these Florida voters, but there seems to be plenty of blame to go around.”

The UNF PORL also asked registered voters if they would vote yes or no on a proposed amendment to the Florida State Constitution which prohibits any law banning abortion before viability or to protect the life of the patient. In response, 62% said they would vote yes on the measure if it appears on the 2024 ballot, while 29% said they would vote no.

“If this amendment does make it on the ballot, initiatives like this one need a supermajority of 60% in order to pass, and it looks like the proposed abortion amendment is right at that threshold among these respondents,” Binder said. “Even among registered Republicans, 53% would vote to protect abortion rights in Florida, with just 39% voting no.”

Respondents were also asked if they would vote yes or no on another proposed state constitutional amendment that would allow adults in Florida to purchase and possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they would vote yes, with 28% indicating a vote of no. In the spring of 2023, 70% of respondents said they would support recreational marijuana in Florida, either strongly or somewhat, and 76% said they supported it in the spring of 2022.

MORE: Could Florida be next state to legalize recreational marijuana? Supporters want you to decide

“Unlike previous surveys when we simply asked if folks support or oppose legalization of recreational marijuana, this time we gave respondents the specifics of this proposed amendment,” Binder said. “Yet again, it looks like it has a good chance of passing, if the measure makes it through the courts, and that is a very big ‘if.’”

Both of the potential amendments are already being challenged by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. Earlier this month, Moody filed a 50-page brief to the state’s Supreme Court arguing that the language in the abortion amendment is misleading.

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