MIAMI (AP) - Florida voters picked the economy as the top issue facing the nation, according to preliminary results from exit polling conducted for The Associated Press.
Nearly two-thirds of Florida voters picked the slowly-recovering economy as the most pressing issue on their minds, as they did four years ago. Health care, the deficit and foreign policy lagged far behind in voters' minds.
When it came to the economy, rising prices were the top concern of Florida voters. Not far behind was unemployment. Both were the picks of more than a third of voters in a state with an 8.7 percent unemployment rate.
Stacie Jemison, a 32-year nurse in Pensacola, said she worries about opportunities for the middle class.
"I feel like middle-class people are getting left behind," said Jemison, who voted for President Barack Obama on Tuesday.
Ramiro Areces, a 55-year-old Miami attorney, said the slowdown in bank lending was his biggest worry about the economy. He voted for Republican Mitt Romney on Tuesday.
"Banks are just not lending money anymore," said Areces, who also owns a tuxedo business. "Five years ago banks had a lot of leeway to lend to small businesses and got out of control. Now they've gone the other way and I think that is affecting the economy."
Slightly more than half of Florida voters believe former President George W. Bush is to blame for the nation's economic problems. Just more than 2 out of 5 voters blame Obama for the nation's economic woes.
"You can't fix a country in four years," said Carlos Padilla Quintero, a 60-year-old real estate agent in Miami who supported Obama.
Half of Florida voters believe that Obama's health care overhaul should be repealed. Slightly more than half of voters also support an amendment to the state constitution that encourages state leaders to resist the implementation of Obama's health care overhaul.
Florida voters made up their minds early. More than two-thirds of voters said they had made up their minds before September.
The survey of Florida voters was conducted for the AP by Edison Research. This includes preliminary results from interviews with 3,124 voters from a random sample of 50 precincts statewide Tuesday; 811 who voted early or absentee were interviewed by landline or cellular telephone from Oct. 29 through Nov. 4. Results for the full sample were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.
Christine Armario in Miami and Melissa Nelson in Pensacola contributed to this report.
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