About Frank Orlando

Frank Orlando is an instructor of political science at Saint Leo University. He a master’s degree in political science and government from Duke University, where he also completed further graduate studies in public choice policy. His research focuses on American federal institutions and elections, and specializes in Congressional procedure. He teaches courses on American government, Congress, the presidency, elections, and democracy. His work on the Senate has been published in the edited volume, Party and Procedure in the United States Congress, and he is a member of the American Political Science Association.

Saint Leo University Poll Shows Early Base of GOP Support for U.S. Senate Candidacy Favoring Governor Rick Scott

SAINT LEO – Florida Republicans asked to think about the next major election in their lives— coming in 2018—favor current Governor Rick Scott above others named as possible GOP nominees to run for U.S. Senate, a new Saint Leo University Polling Institute  ( survey shows.

The poll of 501 Florida residents was completed November 27 through November 30, 2016.

Republicans in the sample were asked whom they could support in a primary for the six-year term for U.S. Senate. The seat is currently held by three-term Democratic incumbent Senator Bill Nelson.

If Florida Governor Scott wanted to be the GOP candidate, 41 percent of the Republicans surveyed said they could support him. Scott is prevented by term limits from seeking the office of governor again. He has been elected twice, consecutively.

After Scott, the next most common answer was “unsure or don’t know,” selected by 33.1 percent. Another 11.2 percent said they wanted “someone else” instead of the names presented. The choices shown were solely names, without current political offices or occupations attached.

Outgoing Republican Congressman David Jolly of St. Petersburg, who lost his bid to return to the U.S. House of Representatives, was supported by 6.2 percent. The other names presented were current officeholders, all even at less than 3 percent: U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach on Florida’s east coast; Carlos Lopez-Cantera, lieutenant governor under Scott; and U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney of Okeechobee.

“Clearly Rick Scott is benefitting from the fact that he is the most well-known of the Republicans seeking to unseat Bill Nelson,” said Saint Leo University Polling Institute Director Frank Orlando. “When facing off against the candidates who sought the GOP nomination before Marco Rubio decided to run for re-election, he’s dominating against candidates […]

By |December 8th, 2016|Institute|0 Comments

Division Persists Among American Public, Post-Election Survey from Saint Leo University Polling Institute Shows

SAINT LEO, FL – A new national survey from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( shows the political mood of the country is still divided and ambivalent  following the election of Donald J. Trump as president. In a nonpartisan survey conducted with 1,001 adults nationally from November 27 through November 30, 2016, less than half reported some level of satisfaction with the outcome.

“Even though the Trump campaign has claimed this election as a landslide and a mandate, the public is clearly not buying it,” said Frank Orlando, director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute, and political scientist at the university. The survey specifically asked its online respondents:

Please think about the final outcome of the presidential election. Regardless of your voting preference, please indicate how satisfied you are with the final outcome – the election of Donald Trump as our 45th president.  Would you say you are…


Very satisfied

Somewhat satisfied

Combined percent of satisfied responses


Somewhat dissatisfied

Not at all satisfied

Combined percent of dissatisfied responses




The respondents included roughly even percentage levels of Republicans (27.6 percent) and Democrats (26.6 percent), and 39.2 percent who consider themselves independent.

In response to another question, more than half the respondents, 54.3 percent, strongly or somewhat agreed that the election itself was “generally fair and honest”—something Trump had publicly questioned during the campaign, before he won. Those strongly or somewhat disagreeing that the election was fair and honest amounted to 36.6 percent.

“It’s interesting to see the change in opinions about the fairness of the electoral process before and after the election,” Orlando said. “Before the election, Republicans were much more likely to fret about voter fraud, while Democrats largely dismissed these concerns.  After the election, this relationship was flipped.”

What Mattered in Voting

Survey respondents were […]

By |December 7th, 2016|Institute|0 Comments

Proposed Florida Constitutional Amendment on Solar Power Facing a Changed Landscape Among Voters, New Saint Leo Poll Finds

Likely Voters Continue to Support Medical Marijuana and Property-Tax Ballot Measures

SAINT LEO, FL – A new Florida survey from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute (  found continued strong support for all the proposed amendments to the Florida state constitution, with the notable erosion of popularity for the measure concerning consumers and solar energy. Controversy erupted over this measure on social media, and as the election has drawn closer, major newspaper editorial boards across the state have opposed the measure and termed it misleading.

In Florida, at least 60 percent of the voters have to approve a ballot measure for it to pass. During this election, Florida voters will be presented with four measures. The polling institute has been tracked public sentiment on all four measures during the summer. And in general, voters have favored the other measures to make medical marijuana available for a range of conditions under a physician’s care, and for certain property tax breaks for first responders and senior citizens.

The solar issue is the only one where the direction of public sentiment has changed course by more than 20 points. The most recent survey was conducted online from October 22 through October 26 among 1,028 likely voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

“This movement away from support for Amendment 1 is a sign that the social media campaign is working,” said Frank Orlando, political scientist and director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute.

“Opponents of Amendment 1 clearly don’t have the financial power that the utility companies do, but they’ve been very effective at getting their message out via forums like Facebook.  In addition, the fact that almost every major newspaper has come out against the […]

By |October 31st, 2016|Institute|0 Comments

Clinton Lead Growing in Florida and Across the U.S. in New Saint Leo Poll, and Most Expect Her to Win the Presidency

GOP’s Rubio Holding a Firm Lead in Quest to Return to Senate from Florida

SAINT LEO, FL – Surveys fielded earlier this week by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( show Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton with double-digit leads nationally and in the important state of Florida­­­ over her Republican opponent Donald Trump. The pattern was consistent with likely voters who have decided their choice and with voters who had not committed but could say which candidate they were leaning toward.

The Saint Leo Florida survey also showed U.S. Senator Marco Rubio leading the Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter (Palm Beach County), by 5 percentage points—43.8 percent vs. 38.8 percent—in the contest for the incumbent’s U.S. Senate seat. The race is being watched intensely nationally as its outcome will help determine whether Republicans or Democrats control the Senate during the next presidential term.

“This has become one of the seats that Republicans are relying on to hang on to control in the Senate,” noted Frank Orlando, director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute. “Marco Rubio has held a consistent lead in all three of our fall polls, and he’s running almost 20 points ahead of Trump in the state. Democrats seem to be more interested in pursuing gains elsewhere, though they’d still relish the opportunity to take away Rubio’s Senate platform leading into 2020,” Orlando said, referring to the former Republican presidential candidate, and his possible future ambitions.

All the survey results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Nationally, 1,050 likely voters completed the online survey between October 22 and October 26. In Florida, 1,028 likely voters responded during the same time period.

The percentage of likely voters […]

By |October 28th, 2016|Institute|0 Comments

Proposed Amendments Retain the Favor of Florida Voters in Latest Saint Leo Survey

Medical Marijuana Provision Among the Suggested Measures

SAINT LEO, FL – Four measures that will appear on the ballot for Florida voters on November 8 appear poised for approval, including a measure to allow the use of medical marijuana when prescribed by a doctor, according to a September survey by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute (

For a ballot measure to pass, at least 60 percent of voters must support it. In these cases, support has grown over the course of multiple Saint Leo polls. The most recent survey was conducted online from September 10 to 16, 2016, with 502 respondents, including 475 who said they are likely voters. The margin of error for responses reported here is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

All measures that appear on voter ballots in Florida do so through one of two possible mechanisms: enough citizens sign a petition, or the Florida Legislature refers a matter to the broad electorate.

Amendments 1 and 2, concerning solar power and medical marijuana, respectively, came about through petitions. The amendment dealing with about property tax treatment for disabled first responders, Amendment 3, and Amendment 5, the tax relief measure for some senior citizens, were referred by the state Legislature.

All the measures seems to have gained support or at least held steady among likely voters in recent months, as the table illustrates. (The survey results from a broader base of Florida respondents, including those who won’t vote, were statistically the same as those from the likely voters.)


Florida Ballot Measures
June 2016 support – likely voters
August 2016 support – likely voters
September 2016 support – likely voters

Grants Florida residents the right to own or lease equipment that produces solar energy for personal use – Amendment 1

Grants the […]

By |September 28th, 2016|Institute|0 Comments

Social Protests, Race, and Black Lives Matter

By |September 23rd, 2016|Institute|0 Comments

Voters Find a Level of Satisfaction with Their Own Decision-Making, But Not Necessarily Their Circumstances or Other Voters

Some of the Public Harbor Suspicions about Voter Fraud and Voter Suppression

SAINT LEO, FL – While American voters don’t give the major presidential candidates high marks for likeability, a new Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey ( shows 65.5 percent of all likely voters are very or somewhat satisfied with their respective political party’s presidential nominee. Among likely voters in Florida, 72 percent said they were satisfied with their party’s nominee for president.

The same survey finds that nationally, only 38.7 percent cumulatively rated Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump somewhat or very favorably (39.4 percent in Florida) and 40.1 percent rated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton somewhat or very favorably (45.9 percent in Florida). The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducted the online survey September 10 through September 16, 2016, with 1,005 likely voters responding across the United States and 475 in Florida.

“These candidates continue to be the least liked in history,” said Frank Orlando, director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute and political scientist at the university. “Still, as the election draws near, opinions of the candidates are starting to slowly rise as voters try to justify their eventual vote choice.”

The poll also tested the notion that some likely voters are switching political parties for their presidential preference. Yet the largest segment of respondents, 69.7 percent, say they have not changed their minds from their original choice. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, and Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, have lost support to third-party candidates in only low percentage levels, 2.7 percent and 2.3 percent respectively, the Saint Leo poll shows.

But more than half the poll respondents would apparently like the opportunity to hear the third-party candidates debate Clinton and Trump. Questions revealed that 60.3 percent […]

By |September 23rd, 2016|Institute|0 Comments

New Saint Leo Survey Shows Presidential Race between Clinton and Trump Narrowing in Florida and Across U.S.

GOP Incumbent Rubio Has Advantage over Democrat Challenger in Election for Senate Seat        

SAINT LEO, FL – Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has a small lead over GOP opponent Donald Trump, with Clinton attracting the support of 42 percent of likely voters nationally compared to 36.5 percent favoring Trump, according to the latest poll from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( Meanwhile, 11.5 percent of the voters said they were unsure. The survey was conducted September 10 to 16.

The results from a separate, concurrent sample of likely voters in the important state of Florida showed similar results. Clinton was ahead with 44.6 percent compared to 39.6 percent for Trump, and 10.7 percent unsure.

The survey followed up with uncertain, but likely, voters to ask which candidate they were leaning toward. When those responses were added to the tabulations for likely voters who had made their decisions, the trends followed the same general pattern, as shown in this table.

Combined support – national

Voters leaning toward support and decided supporters
Combined support – FL

Voters leaning toward support and decided supporters

Democrat –  Clinton
46.2% (decided voters = 42%)
49.4% (decided voters = 44.6%)

Republican – Trump
41% (decided voters = 36.5%)
43.6% (decided voters = 39.6%)

Libertarian – Johnson
9.3% (decided voters = 7.6%)
5.7% (decided voters = 4%)

Green – Stein
3.6% (decided voters = 2.5%)
1.7% (decided voters =1.5%)


“This is a 9-point swing away from Clinton since our August poll findings” said Frank Orlando, director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute and a political scientist on the university faculty ( Clinton’s post-convention “bounce” has dissipated, Orlando said, and it appears reports about her health concerns, continued criticisms of email handling, and the perception of dishonesty around her campaign are wearing down her previous lead.

“This is probably a much […]

By |September 20th, 2016|Institute|0 Comments

Survey Finds Medical Pot and Other Upcoming Florida Ballot Measures Viewed Favorably by State’s Voters

A survey from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( found broad support for five ballot initiatives that Florida voters will encounter either during the August 30 primary vote, or the November 8 general election voting. Voters will be asked about policy ideas ranging from energy sales and tax breaks on solar panels to property tax matters and—possibly most prominently—about medical marijuana. In Florida, 60 percent of voters have to approve of amendments for the measures to pass.

So it is notable that the general support found for all the proposed measures has been steady since the Saint Leo University Polling Institute’s June survey.

The most recent survey was conducted online from August 14 to 18, 2016, among 1,500 adults in Florida. Of those 1,500 people contacted, 1,011 said they are likely to vote in the August primary. A larger base—1,380 people—said they are likely to vote in the presidential election (which fits with typical American voting behavior) on November 8. At those sample sizes, the margin of error for the responses shown in the survey is plus or minus 3 percentage points, meaning the support levels could actually be 3 points higher or 3 points lower than indicated here. In June, the Florida likely voters in the presidential election numbered 459, so the margin of error for the responses shown in that column is plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Florida ballot measures up for voter approval or disapproval in primary or general election
Percentage support levels among likely voters from June 2016 poll
Percentage support among likely voters in August 30 primary
Percentage support among likely voters in November8 general election

Provides property tax exemptions for renewable energy devices – Amendment 4 (only one on August 30 ballot)

Grants Florida residents […]

By |August 24th, 2016|Institute|0 Comments

Saint Leo Poll Shows Rubio Running Strong in Senate Race, Better Than Trump is Running on Top of the GOP Ticket in Florida

Murphy Pulls Ahead of Grayson in Democratic Primary Bid for U.S. Senate

The current junior U.S. Senator from Florida—and former GOP presidential candidate—Marco Rubio appears to be in a strong position to fend off the major challenger for the GOP nomination in the upcoming Florida primary, according to the latest survey by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute (

The survey of Florida Republicans (numbering 479) and Democrats (numbering 532), was taken online from August 14 to August 18, and asked members of the political parties how they intend to vote in the state’s primary on August 30. The primary will determine the final candidates from each of the two major parties to compete for the U.S. Senate seat in the November 8 general election. Florida is a closed primary state, meaning Republicans can vote only for Republican candidates, and Democrats only for Democratic candidates (though all can vote on a ballot proposal that will appear on the August 30 ballot). In the cases of both the Republican and Democratic survey bases, the margin of error for the results is plus or minus 4.5 percent, meaning the actual results could be off in either direction by that many points.

On the Republican side, Rubio’s strongest challenger is home builder Carlos Beruff from Manatee County. Also on the ticket are Ernie Rivera, a Christian pastor from outside Tampa,  and Dwight Young, a detention deputy with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

Republicans committed to one of those candidates, or at least leaning toward one of the candidates, were asked whom they would select if the August 30 primary was being held the day they answered the survey. Respondents strongly preferred Rubio, who attracted more than two-thirds of the GOP survey base.

Republican Candidates
Combined […]

By |August 23rd, 2016|Institute|0 Comments