[ OP-ED COLUMN ]

Opposing Views on State Economy


Published: Sunday, June 24, 2012 at 12:15 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, June 24, 2012 at 12:15 a.m.

A report last week from Bloomberg News citing anonymous sources said the Mitt Romney campaign had asked Gov. Rick Scott to tone down his positive remarks about the Florida economy.

The problem was, Scott's remarks were at odds with Romney's narrative that the economy is ailing because of President Barack Obama.

Both the Romney campaign and Scott said no request to change the Florida governor's message had been made. And, speaking before a group of Latino officials from across the country on Friday, Scott again was touting Florida's progress.

"We've had the biggest drop in unemployment of any state since I've become governor — except one," Scott said. "We're doing the right things. ...

"The Romney campaign has not asked us to tone our rhetoric, although I'm glad that, nationally, people know how well we're doing in Florida," he added.

The dust-up over the economic rhetoric is important because this year's presidential race is likely to pivot on the issue. Each side blames the other for the economy.

A new poll from Quinnipiac University shows that how Florida voters view the economic problems is largely filtered through their political beliefs. Not surprisingly, Republicans are more likely to blame Obama, while Democrats are willing to pin the problems on Scott.

First — and perhaps more important — the poll showed that the Florida electorate is not happy. A solid majority — 59 percent — is dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the direction of the state.

That hasn't changed much over Quinnipiac's long-term polling in the state, but it stands in contrast to the happier, pre-recession days of February 2005, when Quinnipiac found that 63 percent of Floridians were satisfied or very satisfied with the direction of the state.

The economy is a major reason for that dissatisfaction. Here's how the numbers break down in the blame game:

Asked if the economy has gotten better or worse since Scott took office in January 2011, 31 percent of Florida voters said it was worse, 22 percent said better, and 43 percent said about the same.

More Republicans — 36 percent to 17 percent — said the economy has gotten better under Scott. More Democrats — 44 percent to 10 percent — said the economy has gotten worse under Scott. Among independents, 32 percent said the economy is worse, and 21 percent said it was better.

Of those who think the economy has gotten better, 76 percent credit Scott, and only 15 percent credit Obama.

Conversely, of those who think the economy is worse, 66 percent blame Scott, and only 16 percent blame Obama.

The poll, which was conducted June 12 to June 18, had a margin of error of 2.4 percent.

WINNER OF THE WEEK

Marco Rubio. Unveiling his political memoir, "An American Son," and having Mitt Romney say he was looking at the Florida senator as a potential running mate all boosted Rubio's profile on the national political stage.

LOSER OF THE WEEK

University students. Ignoring pleas from Gov. Rick Scott to limit tuition increases, the State University System's Board of Governors backed tuition hikes ranging from 9 percent to 15 percent at state universities.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"I'd give him a B for governing. I'd give him an A for strangeness," former state Republican Party Chairman Tom Slade told Bloomberg News, rating Gov. Rick Scott's leadership style.

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