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Polls Show Differing Support For Minimum Wage Amendment

An amendment to raise Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour is on the general election ballot this year.

Two separate polls conducted by state universities report similar voter support -- but the poll directors differ on if it will get enough to pass.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute and the University of North Florida each questioned likely Florida voters, chosen at random, and encompassing several demographics.

Amendments require 60% voter approval in order to pass.

Frank Orlando, director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute, is confident Amendment 2 will hit that magic number.

Our poll foundthat if you add people that strongly support (48%) and somewhat support (22.8%) the amendment ... that it would be already over the 60% needed in order to get that passed,” said Orlando. “It looks like it's in a pretty strong position to pass come Election Day.”

Orlando added that most of the campaigning and advertising this year is being taken up by the presidential race, leaving minimal room for information regarding the different amendments being considered.

He suggested, because of the lack of attention to these “really important” amendments, voters could be swayed to vote in favor of Amendment 2 due to its wording on the ballot.

“You can kind of take advantage of the fact that voters are going to look at the headline, they might read a little bit of it on the ballot, but they're just going to go with their gut on most of these things. And that usually leads to them voting yes,” said Orlando.

“The vast majority of voters, the first time they see this amendment will be when they vote,” he continued. “The odds that they will spend a lot of time researching the pros and cons is low, in my opinion, and I think it's backed up by political science research.”

On the other hand, a poll from the University of North Florida puts support right at the 60% threshold for passing.

Polling Director Michael Binder thinks voters will not show even that level of support come Election Day.

“One thing to consider (when) polling on ballot measures, notoriously, they poll better than they ultimately do on Election Day. So even if it were to come in…just a point or two or three lower, high 50’s doesn't get it done in Florida,” said Binder.

While Binder agrees with Orlando that voters might not be focusing on the amendments, he feels that they do make an effort to be informed about the positives and negatives.

“These ballot measures are written by the sponsors of the initiative, so clearly they're going to have a positive spin to them when you're reading them,” Binder added, “Once the voters sit down and focus, often times they'll tend to find some of the downsides to it, and this leads into why I see some of these polls decreasing in support into Election Day.”

According to Binder, Florida’s struggling economy due to COVID-19 is making people pay more attention to these amendments, even if they don’t vote in favor of them.

Service industry businesses often lead the opposition to increasing the minimum wage, as it hurts their bottom line and leads to layoffs. However, Orlando said studies on the relationship between wage growth and increases in unemployment have been inconclusive.

“They haven't shown really strong effects for empirically seeing that unemployment increases as minimum wage increases, but this is still a concern. Especially during the pandemic, that’s what the opposition is shooting for.” Orlando said.

Saint Leo University’s survey was conducted online among 500 individuals between Sept. 27 and Oct. 2. The sample has an associated margin of error of +/- 4.5%.

The University of North Florida Fall Statewide Poll was conducted online between Oct. 1 and Oct. 4. They questioned 3,142 registered likely Florida voters, 18 or older. 81% of respondents voted in the 2018 Florida General election. The margin of error is +/- 1.8 %.

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Deanna Lampasona Colon