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Local Polling Firm Partner Discusses Important Topics Across Miami-Dade Communities

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Polls are a good way to see how people are feeling about their community, important issues and elections.

The polling firm Bendixen & Amandi International has an excellent reputation for getting accurate results. They recently released the results of polling they did in Miami-Dade at the beginning of May.

First of all, makeup, Miami-Dade is more female than male, more Hispanic than white or black and more Democrat than Republican.

"That's certainly the case by voter registration which is who we polled, registered voters in Miami-Dade County," said Fernand Amandi, managing partner of Bendixen & Amandi International.

Some of the issues most important to people in Miami-Dade are jobs and youth gun violence – both coming in at 19 percent.  Traffic also ranked high, coming in third at 14 percent.

"One of those issues we had never seen as even a top issue, let alone an issue that registered, it was youth gun violence," Amandi said. "I think this has been in reaction to what we have seen in this community, an increase in the deaths of young people as a result of gun violence. So it was a surprise to see it catapult itself into the top position tied with jobs and the economy."

But when you break that down by ethnic group, blacks list youth gun violence as the most important issue while whites say traffic and Hispanics say jobs.

So what does that tell Amandi?

"And remember the question was, 'Which was these was the most important issue?' I mean everybody feels all of these are important issues. But when you ask them to prioritize, in the case of the black community, this is an area or this issue on youth gun violence it seems to disproportionately affect the black community. And when you're talking about an issue of life and death against the most vulnerable segment of the population, as it is in this case, it stands to reason that would be their number one concern, " he said. "By contrast, in the white-Anglo electorate, traffic is the number one issue. It was interesting because only 5 percent of white-Anglo voters said that youth gun violence was the most important issue. Clearly, a couple of different things happening based on the different communities."

And on the least important issues, both whites and Hispanics said public safety is not a big concern. It's a stark difference from the black community, which has so much concern about gun violence.

"I think the African-American communities is in essence calling out and saying, 'Look, these are our most vulnerable, our future, our young people. And if they're not safe, if they can't make it and are at risk of being shot and killed, what else do we have? We have to spotlight this issue.' I think that's what they're saying in the poll," Amandi said.

Then there's the historic changes in U.S.-Cuba relations.

As a group, Cubans in South Florida are most opposed.

A vast majority of them watched President Obama's speech to the Cuban people. And what's interesting to note, of those who watched it, most of them – 81 percent of them – really liked what he had to say.

"You know, I think it was a historic speech by the president, and you saw that manifest in the poll results," Amandi said. "I know that Cuban-Americans aren't regarded  as the base of the Obama electorate, especially down here in South Florida. But at least when it came to giving that speech, where he went into the lion's den and was willing to almost denounce the Castro brothers to their face... I think every Cuban wished they could be doing what President Obama was doing there. I think that's why they gave a thumbs up to the speech."

The polls also asked about the presidential elections coming up in November.

Overall, Hillary Clinton has a big lead – 52 percent over Donald Trump's 25 percent. But 23 percent of voters are still undecided.

Amandi isn't all that surprised.

"Well, first and foremost as expected, Miami-Dade County a Democratic county, Hillary Clinton with a 27-point advantage. Remember, Barack Obama won Dade County by 24 points in 2012, so she's on pace," he said. "Now, that high undecided interestingly enough when you break that down... it's mostly Republicans. I think a lot of Republicans are coming to grips that Donald Trump is their nominee."

And among Cubans, not surprising, Trump would have the lead – 41 to 29 percent over Clinton. But 30 percent of Cuban-Americans are undecided.

But is there there a softening of support for a Republican candidate among a block that has traditionally supported Republican candidates by a huge margin?

"While he is ahead over Hillary Clinton, that is a number that should be concerning cause it's a historic low for how a Republican candidate is polling against a Democratic candidate with Cuban voters," Amandi said.


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