The Miami Herald

Poll shows that for Floridians, facts get in the way

Who can understand Floridians?

They don’t like the governor they elected, but they like his policies — even those found to be constitutionally questionable by the courts.

They overwhelmingly support the flawed Stand Your Ground Law used by some people to get away with murder, but reject the Affordable Care Act that would make it possible for people with pre-existing medical conditions to get insurance.

If one is to believe the results of a Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9 poll of 800 voters likely to vote in the Nov. 6 election, the conservative Florida that elected Rick Scott hasn’t grown any wiser in the 18 months he’s been in office.

Never mind the ample media coverage of Scott’s controversial initiatives.

Floridians support the governor’s voter purge, despite evidence that citizens have been removed and that minorities have been targeted.

They support Scott’s attempt to drug-test welfare recipients, even though that measure was struck down by a federal judge who said it violates the Fourth Amendment ban on illegal searches and seizure of a class of people.

Despite detailed reports about Scott’s outright lies about the effects of the president’s healthcare reform and that the U.S. Supreme Court largely upheld its constitutionality, 52 percent of Florida voters oppose the Affordable Care Act because they think it will make the healthcare system worse.

These are the same voters who give Scott low approval ratings and elected him knowing that he was the chief executive of a hospital chain accused of perpetrating a billion-dollar Medicare fraud and of violating other federal laws mostly while he was in charge.

Pollster Brad Coker of the nonpartisan Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, which conducted the poll, says Floridians are “a little weird” but not unique. Their partisan opinions on complex issues are a sign of the times.

“People are discussing politics on their home computers with other people,” Coker says. “They’re socially isolated and spend more time watching television and on social media.”

When I cite detailed newspaper coverage that makes a difference on issues — the PolitiFact Florida check on Scott’s claims about the Affordable Act or the study in the Tampa Bay Times on how the Stand Your Ground law is being used by drug dealers and others to get away with murder — Coker tells me: “That’s inside baseball.”

Outside media and academic circles, most people formulate opinions about laws without factual details, he says.

People support Stand Your Ground because they want the right to defend themselves. They want cheats, the non-deserving and non-citizens off welfare and voting rolls.

They consume quick bites of news and form opinions that confirm their gut-reaction to issues based on their experiences, perceptions and values — not considering details or nuances of law. Quite a scary formula.

There’s more of this decision-making to come in the general election, and unfortunately for the nation, our lack of sound judgment could once again reverberate all the way to the White House.

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