Susan MacManus

Bernie Sanders at podium

Political Scientist Susan MacManus said few people really expected Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to do well in Florida's presidential primary, with the state's mix of older, more conservative voters and Hispanics who are well versed with the effects of socialism in places like Cuba and Venezuela.

After nearly two weeks, the Sunshine State's darkest recurring political nightmare is over.

Florida's recount process was marred by accusations of incompetence, antiquated voting technology and even a ballot design issue that some Democrats believe cost them a Senate seat. Republicans and the president even suggested — without evidence — that voter fraud had been committed.

For some it brought back flashbacks to the 2000 presidential election, when the nation's attention was brought to Florida's humiliating, poorly-organized recount procedure.

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With voting day only a week away, Florida's midterm election is shaping up to be another nail-biter.

To help you understand how the Tampa Bay area will influence this year's big races, WUSF's Robin Sussingham sat down with political analyst and USF Professor Emerita Susan MacManus. MacManus said the youngest voters - Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z - are likely to decide this election, whether they show up to the ballot box or not. And the I-4 corridor remains a strong predictor for how the rest of the state will vote.


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Residents in Florida's biggest cities may be reluctant to recommend their hometown to people looking to move.

The USF-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey asked about deterrents to moving to a community, and 72 percent of people listed traffic congestion as "a problem" or "a big problem."

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Just months after seeing the budget for the state tourism marketing agency cut to $75 million amid a cantankerous political fight, Gov. Rick Scott is asking again for a major boost.

Survey: Financial Stress Real Problem For Floridians

Oct 7, 2016

The first part of the USF-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey, focusing on the economy and the environment, was released yesterday. 

The Sunshine State Survey is the most anticipated nonpolitical survey which gathers Floridians opinions on a wide range of economic, social and emerging issues. 

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

Orlando was the center of the Republican political universe over the weekend, as all the major candidates for president spoke at the GOP's Sunshine Summit. WUSF's Steve Newborn was there, and caught up with University of South Florida political science professor Susan MacManus.

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More data has been released from the annual Sunshine State Survey.

This time, it shows that 85 percent of Floridians want people buying a gun or getting a gun license to get mental health screenings first.

According to survey director Susan MacManus, almost all Floridians agree on this issue.

“This is probably the most solid and most consensual opinion that we've seen in virtually the entire Sunshine State Survey,” she said.

More data is coming from the annual Sunshine State Survey.

This time, it shows that 85 percent of Floridians want people buying a gun or getting a gun license to get mental health screenings first.

Susan MacManus, the survey director and a political scientist at the University of South Florida, says that almost all Floridians agree on this issue.

"This is probably the most solid and most consensual opinion that we've seen in virtually the entire Sunshine State Survey," she says.

Susan MacManus
picture of Susan MacManus

Former Gov. Jeb Bush is expected to make his long-awaited announcement Monday that he's running for president. Bush plans to speak at 3 p.m. at Miami Dade College's campus in Kendall. WUSF's Steve Newborn talks with University of South Florida political science professor Susan MacManus about how Bush will fare in his home state, against another favorite son and candidate, Marco Rubio.

MacManus believes there's a "generational divide" over people who are opposed to a possible "dynasty" with three Bushes in the White House.

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli surprised lawmakers Tuesday when he abruptly adjourned the chamber three days before the legislative session was scheduled to end. He did so because the House and Senate are far apart on a budget plan.

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After two national presidential primary failures, Florida lawmakers are changing the date. The legislature is on its way to reversing the 2016 presidential primaries from January back to March.

Florida’s reputation as an influential swing state in elections hasn’t gone unnoticed. At one point, state lawmakers were fed up with being recognized after states like Iowa and New Hampshire during the presidential primaries.

There was also the fact that those other states had a much less diverse voter pool to wade through, as USF political scientist Susan MacManus explained.

USF's Sunshine State Survey on Health

Oct 7, 2014

USF's School of Public Affairs and Nielsen released more results of their annual Sunshine State Survey today. These are the numbers on how Floridians feel about recreational marijuana.

USF Professor Susan MacManus says two-thirds of Floridians believe that the approval of the medicinal marijuana amendment will lead to legalizing pot, while less than one-third disagree.

The avalanche of negative ads that are permeating both sides of the race for governor is bound to turn off a lot of voters from going to the polls in November. That's the word from USF political science professor Susan MacManus, who says this is having a corrosive effect on democracy. She tells WUSF's Steve Newborn that all this negativity may persuade undecided voters to sit this one out.

 USF's School of Public Affairs and Nielsen's latest results on their annual Sunshine State Survey was released today, asking how Floridians feel about crime and environmental issues.

USF Political Scientist Dr. Susan MacManus said 46 percent of Floridians are in favor of making current gun laws more restrictive, while a slight majority see no reason to do so.

"This question really reflects racial, ethnic, gender and age divide in the state," she said.

USF's Sunshine State Survey Results on Jobs

Sep 16, 2014

USF's School of Public Affairs has released the latest results of its annual Sunshine State Survey.  USF and Nielsen are asking how Floridians feel about a variety of issues.

USF Political Scientist Dr. Susan MacManus said Floridians believe the biggest threat to Florida's economy is unemployment. But they rated undocumented immigrants as the third biggest concern.

One of the most visible races in Tuesday’s primary election is that of U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho against Jake Rush.

"I grew up with dialogue between — heated dialogue — the family," she says. "I grew up hearing different opinions, and, honestly, if there's one thing I'm grateful for it was that after we would all raise Cain about politics with each other, we'd sit down and have meals and have fun and know we loved each other, and to this day, I like hearing different opinions. It's critical to what I do in a divided state."


An election will be held Tuesday in Pasco County to determine who will replace Republican state Rep. Mike Fasano.

Fasano stepped down because he was appointed to be the county's tax collector by Gov. Rick Scott.

In a twist, Fasano has backed Democratic candidate Amanda Murphy to be his successor, over fellow Republican Bill Gunter.

This is not the first time a Republican has supported a Democrat in the state of Florida. USF political science professor, Susan MacManus says it's not an unusual occurrence in Florida.

USF Holds General Election Straw Poll

Oct 15, 2012

Many polls have gauged Floridians' opinions on the upcoming general election, but there's only one poll that gives insight into the youth vote. 

Political groups on the University of South Florida Tampa campus spearheaded by political science professor Susan MacManus sponsored a straw poll.

MacManus says one of the purposes of this straw poll is "to project the idea that the USF campus is not disinterested in politics in any stretch of the word."

Dalia Colon / WUSF

On Wednesday's show, calls and Facebook comments poured in for our guests:

University of South Florida

With Election Day still four months away, the anger and elation felt in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the Affordable Care Act may die down slightly by November. But if the economy is issue-1 on people's minds when they go to the polls, USF Political Science Professor Dr. Susan MacManus says healthcare reform will likely be issue-1a.

"Clearly the economy and jobs is still going to be preeminent," she said. "But what this ruling does do is to now interweave healthcare as a cost item and a job creation item into the debate. So in that way, it sort of joined the two issues."