Economy is top issue among Floridians ahead of midterm elections, survey says

A new survey from the University of South Florida gives a look at what issues matter most to Florida voters for the midterm elections, just as the race for the state’s next governor begins to heat up.

Just five weeks away from the primaries in Florida, political candidates made stops in Tampa over the past few days. Democratic gubernatorial candidates Charlie Crist and agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried spoke at a Florida Democratic Party’s Leadership Blue over the weekend in Tampa. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis also made the rounds with supporters at a Moms for Liberty event in the city.

In a new survey published Tuesday, USF associate professor and survey researcher Stephen Neeley said 600 Floridians shared that their top issues for this election cycle shifted away from COVID-19.

"We asked Floridians, ‘What's the most important issue facing the state?’ Thirty-five percent say jobs in the economy. The next closest is 12 percent with government corruption, and so it's very clear that the most important issue on voters’ minds is the economy," said Neely.

READ: Midterm elections in Florida: Key dates and changes to voting in 2022

Inflation is hitting everyone’s wallets right now, so voters are looking for action.

"Seventy-four percent said that they're going to vote based on pocketbook issues. And that is really meaningful for the governor's race because right now, that's the area where Governor DeSantis is the strongest. He has 50 percent approval on jobs and the economy compared to only 43 percent disapproval," Neely said.

Many Floridians also said they care about government corruption, and social issues like gun violence and abortion, the survey found. After the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of the Roe v. Wade landmark decision that protected the right to an abortion, the national conversation may translate differently at the polls.

"We don't see enough there to indicate that it's really going to move the governor's race in one direction or another. What it does do for both parties is it provides energy to the base," said Neely. "So our survey should not be taken as a predictor of the election. What our survey does tell us is how Floridians as a whole feel, and it's a very representative survey in that regard."

County supervisors of elections are reminding residents to check their voter registration to make sure it’s up-to-date. You can also check your requests for a mail-in ballot. The deadline to register to vote is July 25.