USF Straw Poll Results Show Conservative Shift

The U.S. Senate race was remarkably close, while Sink outdistances Scott for governor.


 University of South Florida students tabulate the votes from Thursday's Student Straw Poll.


By Peter E. Howard Digital News Editor


TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 21, 2010) – A Student Straw Poll Thursday shows the Florida U.S. Senate race a virtual dead heat, while Democrat Alex Sink was the clear winner for Florida’s next governor over her opponent Rick Scott.


And the voters – 1,534 University of South Florida students on the Tampa campus – declared a clear conservative shift compared to how students voted in the 2008 presidential election straw poll conducted on campus.


“It’s driven by economics,” said Susan A. MacManus, USF distinguished professor of political science, who organized the polling project. “They are seeing a bleak job outlook and they see their parents struggling to make ends meet. They have a need to make money.”


The Straw Poll comes just three days before nationally televised debates take place at USF. At 9 a.m. Sunday, CNN will broadcast a debate between U.S. Senate candidates, Independent Charlie Crist, Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Kendrick Meek.


At 7 p.m. Monday, CNN will broadcast a second debate from campus for gubernatorial candidates Sink and Scott.


In the Straw Poll, Rubio and Crist each received 31 percent of the vote. Meek received 30 percent. Sink captured 53 percent of the vote compared to 33 percent for Scott.


Student voters also supported the transit referendum in Hillsborough County by a margin of 45 percent to 23 percent.


View complete Straw Poll results here.


In the 2008 Straw Poll about 1,000 votes were cast. The high turnout this year, MacManus said, shows student activism and involvement in politics and their desire to have an impact on the country’s future.


“I’m thrilled with the turnout of students,” she said. “It also shows enthusiasm for the upcoming CNN debates.”


Peter E. Howard can be reached at 813-974-9057.