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New Poll Explores News Media Habits Among Florida Voters

New poll looks at where Florida voters get their news

Florida voters maintain their connection to both traditional and social platforms but turn largely to cable and local news in an age of media distrust and fragmentation, according to a new Florida Atlantic University Mainstreet PolCom Lab poll.

The poll examined voters’ media preferences, trust levels, social media usage and political news discussions to offer a nuanced understanding of the Floridian electorate’s relationship to news media.

Cable News Remains Primary Media Choice for GOP Voters

GOP and Democratic voters differ on where they go for their political news. Cable news emerged as the primary choice for Republicans, with 44 percent indicating viewership, followed by Democrats (32 percent) and Independents (21 percent). Conversely, Democrats and Independents demonstrated a greater reliance on network TV news and newspapers, with 27 percent and 18 percent, respectively, compared to only 10 percent of Republicans. Furthermore, Independents exhibited a higher preference for social media (21 percent) and websites/blogs (23 percent) than Democrats (10 percent and 6 percent, respectively) and Republicans (11 percent and 14 percent, respectively).

Voters Hold Higher Levels of Trust in Local Media, Less in National

Persisting skepticism toward mainstream media becomes apparent from the poll results, with a meager 10 percent of Florida voters professing unwavering trust, while 26 percent express a somewhat trusting sentiment. Gender and political affiliation exhibit noteworthy trends in this regard, as a substantial 45 percent of male voters manifest deep-rooted distrust, whereas only 20 percent of women share this sentiment. Among the political affiliations, Democrats appear more trusting, with 56 percent expressing faith in mainstream media, compared to 32 percent of Independents and 20 percent of Republicans.

However, it is not all skepticism and doubt, as the poll unveils a silver lining for local media with a solid 59 percent of Florida voters placing their trust in local media outlets. Further analysis reveals a slight gender discrepancy, with women (64 percent) displaying marginally higher levels of trust compared to men (55 percent).

Regionally, the Miami area emerges as a bastion of trust in local media, with more than 68 percent of voters expressing confidence. Conversely, the Orlando region lags, with a mere 48 percent reporting trust in local media. Overall, Democrats exhibit higher levels of trust in local media (83 percent) in contrast to Independents (52 percent) and Republicans (48 percent).

“It is great to see that local media is still seen as influential and important to voters,” said Robert Gutsche, Jr., Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Communication and Multimedia Studies. “The challenge is that local news increasingly is seeing its ranks and resources cut, which will further influence how and where voters get their information.”

Florida Voters Still Rely on Traditional Media to Make Political Choices

Despite prevailing skepticism, the poll underscores Florida voters’ engagement with the news. Approximately 35 percent reported consuming news for more than two hours per day, while 90 percent dedicated at least a few hours per week to news consumption. Although traditional media outlets continue to serve as primary sources of information, 10 percent of Florida voters rely solely on social media for their political information, while 29 percent obtain some information and 27 percent glean at least a little bit of their political information from social media platforms.

According to Kevin Wagner, Ph.D., professor of political science at FAU, “Even in the social media age, cable news continues to be an important source of news for Florida voters, especially Republicans. The television continues to drive a large portion of political consumption.”

Floridians are Talking about Political News

Florida voters are keen to discuss politics: 43 percent of respondents engage in political conversations occasionally, and 29 percent indicate extensive involvement in political dialogue.     

“Politics play an important role in our everyday lives,” said Carol Bishop Mills, Ph.D., professor of communication at FAU. “Although there are social taboos surrounding political discussions, it is evident that people are talking, and they should be.”

Although Florida voters are discussing politics, they are not necessarily expanding their views in those talks. Many of these conversations (56 percent) took place with individuals who sometimes agreed and sometimes disagreed, while 25 percent occurred with like-minded individuals. Surprisingly, conversations with individuals holding opposing views occurred only 10 percent of the time.

“Listening and communicating with others who hold different beliefs are valuable skills,” Mills said. “Having difficult conversations and expanding our perspectives help us avoid merely confirming our own worldview.”   

The poll, conducted from June 27 to July 1, included a sample of 933 Florida voters. The margin of error stands at +/- 3.2 percentage points at the 95-percent confidence level, with higher margins of error in each subsample. The survey utilized automated telephone interviews (Smart IVR) for data collection.


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