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A USF study finds inflation is at the top of voters' concerns going into the 2022 election

Shoppers with carts stand in a grocery store aisle, surrounded by products on both sides.
Nam Y. Huh
/
AP
Customers shop at a grocery store in Mount Prospect, Ill., Friday, April 1, 2022. A USF survey found that 77 percent percent of respondents said inflation has affected their grocery spending.

Of the top five issues brought up, 52% of the people surveyed listed inflation as the top one impacting their vote, with 48% bringing up the economy and jobs.

A study published by the University of South Florida shows that Floridians have inflation and the state of the economy at the top of their minds going into the 2022 mid-term election.

The study surveyed 600 Floridians in mid-to-late October to get their biggest issues of concern.

Of the top five issues brought up, 52% of the people surveyed listed inflation as the top one impacting their vote, with 48% bringing up the economy and jobs.

Immigration came in third at 32%, while abortion and gun violence and crime rounded out the top five.

Michael Snipes is an associate professor of economics at the USF Manatee-Sarasota campus. He says the survey's results don't surprise him.

"Especially here in the Tampa Bay region, we're No. 1 in the country when it comes to inflation,” Snipes said. “We're at about a 10% inflation rate, and the rest of the country not great. They're at about 8%, but still not as bad as we are, and in the greater Tampa area."

Snipes also said with the holidays looming around the corner, spending more money than usual is a pertinent thought for people.

For Florida’s economy particularly, Snipes said the state is seeing higher inflation rates than most of the rest of the country.

He said that can be attributed, in part, to the large number of wealthier people who moved here during the coronavirus pandemic, which helped to drive higher prices — especially for the real estate industry.

“If somebody was coming into Florida [during the pandemic], it was going to be a wealthier individual,” Snipes said. “And as more money flows in, especially from wealthier individuals, they're going to be having that increase in spending that the rest of the country isn't, that's something that's going to put an upward pressure on prices. And now that we're starting to see a lot of people now move here, and it's still those wealthier individuals moving in here, that's absolutely going to put an upward pressure on housing.”

Snipes also said Hurricane Ian could have an impact on Florida’s economy, although it missed many major metro areas.

He says politicians are using inflation as a main driving point for their campaigns, but it’s important for voters to pay attention to the candidate of their choice’s actions, not just their words.

“Take just 5-10 minutes and really see what it is that this person votes for,” Snipes said. “Have they put forth any particular policy proposal other than just saying, 'I'm gonna take on inflation?' Everybody says that. But have they put forth particular policy proposal?”

Health care, education and climate change were also issues that garnered more than 10% of the vote from respondents in the USF survey.

Fifty one percent of the survey sample was female, while 48% were male and .7% identified as non-binary.

Of the pool, 58.2% of the respondents were above the age of 44, while the remainder were between the ages of 18 and 44.

Nearly three quarters of the respondents identified as White/Caucasian, and practically one third of the respondents were from Southeast Florida, while 25.2% live in Central Florida, and 22.5% are residents of Florida’s West Coast.

One of the most even categories for respondents was political affiliation, with 36.6% being Democrats and 35.7% identifying as Republican.

Check out the full survey here.

As a host and reporter for WUSF, my goal is to unearth and highlight issues that wouldn’t be covered otherwise. If I truly connect with my audience as I relay to them the day’s most important stories and make them think about an issue past the point that I’ve said it in a newscast, that’s a success in my eyes.