Heading into Florida’s August primary election, a new poll shows that no single issue ranks higher among Democrats than gun violence.
Nearly one in three likely primary voters on the left identify “gun safety reforms” as the issue they hold most important, according to Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm out of Raleigh, N.C. One in four voters selected healthcare, typically a top-ranking issue for Democrats.
“If we’d done this poll two months ago, gun control would have been in the single digits,” said Jim Williams, a PPP polling analyst. “Gun violence would have been at the bottom of the pack and now it’s not, especially in Florida and especially among Democratic primary voters.”
The poll, in which 613 likely primary voters were queried from March 23 to March 25, is the latest data suggesting that last month’s shooting in Parkland has changed the political landscape heading into the mid-term elections. A poll conducted the previous week on behalf of CBS News found that two-thirds of American voters say the candidate must agree with their views on guns in order to earn their vote. Another by FOX News found that 60 percent of registered voters favor banning assault-style weapons, up from 54 percent in 2013 after the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
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The PPP poll was commissioned by a labor union, according to political consultant Christian Ulvert, who declined to name the organization. The results showed that 31 percent of Democratic voters in the state are focused on gun control, 26 percent place a premium on healthcare, and 13 percent are worried about investing in public schools.
Meanwhile, the poll found that voters 41 and younger remain hyper-focused on wages — interesting given that the push for gun control following the Parkland shooting has been heavily focused on teenagers. Democratic Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, expected to face a challenge in November from term-limited Gov. Rick Scott, said Saturday in Washington that he expects the student-led March For Our Lives movement to affect the dynamics of the race.
“I think it will be one of many issues in the campaign,” he said. “I don’t think these kids are going to stop.”
Public Policy Polling also inquired about the Democrats running for governor, and found that former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is slightly ahead, with nearly half of all voters still undecided. Levine, who has been slowly climbing in polls, carried 22 percent of the vote, compared with 19 percent for former congresswoman Gwen Graham, 8 percent for Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and 5 percent for businessman Chris King. Some 46 percent of voters remain undecided.
Ulvert, who represents Levine, said the poll was not affiliated with his client’s campaign.