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New Saint Leo University Poll Finds Americans Express Worry Over Climate Change, Along with Uncertainty About Leaders and Answers

Fourth annual national and Florida state survey goes to practical and ethical matters

SAINT LEO, FL – For the fourth consecutive year, the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( has found a strong majority of Americans attesting to concern about climate change: 74.4 percent of those surveyed in February 2018 said they are either very concerned—40 percent—or somewhat concerned at 34.4 percent.

Of the remaining responses, 11.4 percent said they are somewhat unconcerned and another 11.3 percent said they are not at all concerned. A few, 2.9 percent, said they don’t know.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute collected these responses from 1,007 adults from February 18 to February 24 using an online instrument. A parallel sample was taken in Florida with 500 respondents and results are nearly the same.

Four-Year Picture: Combined percentages of those who are very concerned or are somewhat concerned about climate change

Survey groups
2018 – %
2017 – %
2016 – %
2015 – %

U.S. sample

Florida sample


“Americans continue to show concern over global climate change, and the numbers of those who make the connection to human activities is also persistent,” said Dr. Leo Ondrovic, science faculty member at Saint Leo University. Ondrovic noted that over the years the proportion of respondents (both nationally and in Florida) who say they believe climate change is caused by both human activity and nature has been more than half. In February, 54.9 percent nationally and 56.4 percent in Florida indicated this belief. “Fewer than 5 percent said they do not believe climate change is occurring.”

The poll results also indicate respondents consider climate change a factor in some of the environmental events they know of or experience. “Roughly three out of four Americans believe climate change is to blame for rising sea […]

By |March 20th, 2018|Institute|0 Comments

National Results on Trump’s approval rating by issues, over a year

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute collected the opinions of Americans on President Trump over his first year in office.  President Trump’s national overall job approval was measured at 40.7% in February 2018–down from 41.2% in November 2017 and 42.8% in September 2017. The following are approval ratings in specific areas. The cumulative totals for strongly & somewhat approve are presented here in percentages.


How would you rate the job Donald Trump is doing on…
National: Strongly & Somewhat Approve February 2018
National:  Strongly & Somewhat Approve November 2017
National: Strongly & Somewhat Approve September 2017
National:  Strongly & Somewhat Approve March 2017

support for the troops and the military

jobs and the economy

protecting the United States from terrorism

immigration decisions

revamping Obamacare / Affordable Care Act

handling the budget process with Congress

the opioid crisis in the United States

relations with other nations

handling North Korea

addressing racial/ethnic divisions in the nation

hiring or appointing personnel

handling relations with Russia

handling of the media

utilizing his family members in government roles

his Twitter messages

By |March 19th, 2018|Institute|0 Comments

New Saint Leo University Poll Shows Americans See Political Discord Persisting Among the Nation’s Citizenry

Polarization rings through as a theme in second year of Trump presidency

ST. LEO, FL – As the Trump administration enters its second year of governing, about eight in 10 Americans still report feeling divided from other Americans, and only one in three feel optimistic about reducing political discord, according to a February poll conducted among more than 1,000 adults by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( A parallel poll conducted with 500 Florida adults participating found very similar results.

High percentage levels of those polled said they observed a weakening of democracy. Those who reported strong levels of trust in White House statements, or in the mainstream media to report political news accurately, were less than half of those polled.

“The biggest change from last year is an even more pessimistic view of the country than we had last year both nationally and in Florida,” said Frank Orlando, political scientist and director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute. “More respondents see democracy slipping away, fewer Americans are optimistic about reducing political discord, and nationally we have many more people arguing that not all free speech patterns should be protected. If the Trump presidency hasn’t been as catastrophic as those who voted against him believed from a policy perspective, it has certainly contributed to the growing sense of polarization and despair in the process. The camped battles, heated rhetoric, and media attention have made it very difficult to feel good about the state of public discourse,” he said.

Statements – respondents asked to read and report level of agreement or disagreement
U.S. – Strongly & Somewhat Agree 2/2018- %
U.S. – Strongly & Somewhat Agree 3/2017-%
Florida – Strongly & Somewhat Agree 2/2018- %
Florida – Strongly & Somewhat Agree 3/2017 -%

We […]

By |March 15th, 2018|Institute|0 Comments

A Psychologist: Why Our Minds Are Changing on Gun Topics

FACULTY BLOG: Americans Are Suffering More Angst About Gun Policy

In this moment, Americans seem to have guns on their minds.

A recent national poll conducted by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute—coincidentally only days after the shooting in Parkland, FL—found that public focus on both gun violence and gun controls increased. Following a line of questioning across several measurement points, the poll reveals a shift in perceived importance from less than 2 percent citing gun violence issues of high importance in American society in September 2017 to almost 10 percent in February. Concern over gun controls jumped from less than 1 percent in September to 8.3 percent a few weeks ago.

Enormous tragedy, constant media coverage, and social media streams of family and friends have likely been impossible to miss.

How long will this increased focus continue? One way of understanding how things stay in our focus has to do with the way we create and store memories. In general, the brain stores related information across a vast interconnected framework. To store new information, we make predictions of relationships based on things we already know—creating a new pattern out of old ideas. When a memory or set of ideas is “called up for use,” that specific pattern of activity plays across the framework. The pattern becomes stronger and gains more connections as it is called up over and over; a strong memory pattern or set of ideas becomes one we easily and consistently access as if it were “always on my mind.”

This seems paradoxical because we have also seen that something after each incidence, the pattern in the mind begin to weaken. The brain gets busy directing its energy and resources to processing the other trials and tribulations […]

By |March 13th, 2018|Institute|0 Comments

Trump’s Positive Job Approval Ratings Sags Near 40 Percent Nationally in New Saint Leo University Survey

Mass shooting leaves public agitated but conflicted on gun policy

ST. LEO, FL – Americans who approve of the job performance of President Donald J. Trump lately came to 40.7 percent in the latest Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( survey, holding around the same level as previous poll results from November and September 2017.

The poll was conducted online among 1,007 respondents from February 18 through February 24, 2018. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points in either direction. The same questions were asked of a parallel sample of 500 respondents in Florida.

President Trump and other top Republicans continue to linger at approval ratings that are less than 50 percent in the Saint Leo survey. Respondents are specifically asked whether they strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disapprove of the job performance of the leaders. Results for strongly approve and somewhat approve are added together for the overall approval rating; the same process is applied to arrive at the disapproval rating.

Detailed Overall Approval Ratings Over Time for President Trump

Rate President Trump’s job performance

Feb. 2018
U.S.  |    FL

     Nov. 2017
   U.S.   |  FL

Sept. 2017
 – %
U.S. |   FL

March 2017
 U.S.    |   FL

Combined approvals

Strongly approve

Somewhat approve

Frank Orlando, political scientist and director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute commented: “In this hyper polarized era, it’s not surprising that President Trump’s approval rating hasn’t changed very much since he was elected. There’s very little he can do to convince his detractors to support him, and perhaps even less that would cause his supporters to jump ship.”

The survey also asks respondents to consider 15 specific topic areas and report how they rate President Trump’s job performance in those spheres. For instance, he garnered overall […]

By |March 9th, 2018|Institute|0 Comments

Americans Still Underwhelmed by Job Performance of GOP Leaders According to Latest Saint Leo University Survey

Ryan, McConnell fare worse than President Trump, who pleases about four in 10 

ST. LEO, FL – After a year in office, President Donald J. Trump and other top Republicans in the federal government are not impressing voters nationally or in Florida with the job they are doing, according to new results from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( Not even half of Americans think the GOP leaders are doing well, although Vice President Mike Pence had half of Floridians impressed during part of 2017.

The most recent survey was conducted February 18 through February 24 online among 1,007 respondents nationally. The margin of error for results is plus or minus 3 percentage points. The same survey was also answered by a parallel sample of 500 respondents in Florida, yielding a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

To get a glimpse of how much of the public thinks politicians are doing a good job, the survey questionnaire names each of the current top four Republicans. The respondents are asked to indicate whether they strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disapprove of the job each individual is doing. (Respondents can also say if they don’t know or are not sure.) The sum of the percentage answers from those who strongly approve or somewhat approve is a politician’s overall favorability rating.

“It’s remarkable how stable President Trump’s approval ratings have been since he was elected. He’s experienced a slight decline from the mid-40s to the low-40s, but it appears as though the public’s opinion of the president are baked-in more than we’ve seen ever before.”

Job performance and officeholder
  Feb. 2018 – %U.S.     |    FL
   Nov. 2017 – %U.S.     |    FL
  Sept. 2017 – %U.S.      […]

By |March 9th, 2018|Institute|0 Comments

Pope Francis Approval High in U.S. as Anniversary of Papacy Nears

New Saint Leo University Poll Shows Popularity High Among American Catholics

ST. LEO, FL – As he approaches the fifth anniversary of his papacy, Pope Francis continues to be popular among Americans, a new survey by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( shows.

The online poll, conducted from February 18 through February 24, asked 1,007 adults nationally if their opinion of Pope Francis was strongly favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or not at all favorable. The poll shows 65.6 percent of Americans say they have a favorable—very and somewhat combined—opinion of the pope.

As part of a Catholic university, founded on Benedictine traditions, the Saint Leo University Polling Institute consistently polls on the public’s opinion of the pope.

Among Catholics nationally, Pope Francis enjoys an 85.9 percent approval rating, which is an increase from 81.4 percent in the Saint Leo University Polling Institute’s November (2017) survey. That is lower than the 87.9 percent favorability he earned from Catholics in September (2017).

His overall popularity of 65.6 percent is higher than in previous polls. Francis’ favorability in November 2017 was 62.9 percent, according to the Saint Leo poll, down from 67.9 percent in September, and from 70.5 percent in March 2017.

“It’s not that surprising that we’ve seen the pope’s overall approval rating go up since the November poll,” said Dr. Marc Pugliese, assistant professor of religion and theology at Saint Leo University. “Over time we’ve seen a correspondence between the seasons of the liturgical year and the pope’s approval ratings. Our polls over the last couple of years show that Pope Francis’ approval ratings are higher during Lent and Advent. The spring 2018 poll took place immediately after Lent began this year.” Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent, began […]

By |March 8th, 2018|Institute|0 Comments

New Florida Survey from Saint Leo University Shows Rick Scott Favored by More Voters than Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate Seat

 Gubernatorial Race Not Yet on the Radar of Many Voters

ST. LEO, FL – The most recent Florida state survey conducted by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( found that if current Republican Gov. Rick Scott faced incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in an electoral contest now for Nelson’s seat, Scott would win by a margin of more than 6 percentage points.
The Saint Leo poll results found 41.6 percent of 500 Florida respondents would favor Scott, compared to 35.2 percent for Nelson. The results were gathered online from February 18 through February 24, using a survey instrument that collects answers from Republicans, Democrats, and unaffiliated voters.

The results matter to those anticipating that Scott will be the GOP nominee to challenge Nelson in the actual election in November. Scott will complete his second term as governor at the end of 2018 and cannot seek that office again because of term limits. The U.S. Senate seat, with its six-year term, is a highly desirable seat for both Democrats and Republicans.

Also, 14.6 percent of respondents said they were undecided, and 8.6 said they prefer someone else to choose.

As for the broader survey base of people from all groups in Florida, when asked to rate the job Scott is doing as governor of Florida, 60 percent rated his work positively. That reflects the sum of those who rated Scott very favorably (27.4 percent) or somewhat favorably (32.6 percent). His unfavorable ratings, by contrast, totaled 34.4 percent, including those who selected as an answer somewhat unfavorably (17.6 percent) and not at all favorably (16.8 percent). Only 5.6 percent said they were unsure.

Frank Orlando, director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute, said: “It’s no surprise that Rick Scott is […]

By |March 7th, 2018|Institute|0 Comments

Americans Still Say They Will Make New Year’s Resolutions, Newly Released Saint Leo University Poll Shows

ST. LEO, FL – More than one-quarter of Americans say they will make New Year’s resolutions, according to a new survey released by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( The poll, conducted online November 19-24, 2017, sampled 1,000 adults nationwide.

This year’s poll shows 29.8 percent of respondents say they plan to make resolutions, which is up slightly from 27.2 percent in 2016. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points in either direction.

Traditional New Year’s resolutions held steady, the poll shows, with top responses being: lose weight (55.7 percent); save more money (56 percent); travel more (29.5 percent); and spending more time with family (26.5 percent). But 4.4 percent say they resolve to spend less time with family, a percentage that is up from 2016’s response of 0.4 percent. Poll respondents were allowed to give multiple responses as to which resolutions they are likely to make.

Vacationing more and finding a new job ranked in the top five responses with 29.9 percent and 27.5 percent, respectively. These were up significantly from 2016 when 23.2 percent said they resolved to vacation more and 20.2 percent said they would look for a new job.

“At their core, most New Year’s resolutions seek to create a positive change in some aspect of life; most often an area that has caused worry, shame, regret. . .we make resolutions to create the chance to change these foibles and missteps in the next year,” said Dr. Christopher Wolfe, associate professor of psychology at Saint Leo University.

It is a hallmark within positive psychology that humans are innately striving to become better, Wolfe said.  “A father of the ideology, Abraham Maslow proposed that humans striving toward this better […]

By |December 12th, 2017|Institute|0 Comments

Saint Leo University Poll Shows Fascination with Drones Continues

ST. LEO, FL – Widespread marketing of drones may be working: The latest survey by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute finds that 9.5 percent of those polled nationally in November say they own a drone, compared to 3.5 percent in 2016.

In Florida, where the flying weather is often just fine, 10.2 percent of 500 respondents polled separately say they own a drone, compared to 5 percent in 2016.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute began asking members of the public about their interest in drones in its fourth-quarter poll back in 2015. At the time, the unmanned aerial devices were starting to become known for business, law enforcement and agricultural uses, and not just for military activities, which continue. Commercial use of drones requires a license from the Federal Aviation Administration.

It may appeal to potential hobbyists that drones currently available that weigh less than 0.55 pounds (or 250 grams) do not require FAA registration. Dr. Leo Ondrovic, a member of the Saint Leo University science faculty who is a pilot and is familiar with drones, explained that such models were considered toys when the drone legislation was crafted, and by that logic, the devices were exempt from registration.

“Technology is advancing faster than legislation can keep up,” he commented. Newer drones have decreased in size and yet possess technological capabilities approaching those of earlier models, said Ondrovic.

Among those 90-plus percent of the national sample who do not have a drone, 30.7 percent are very or somewhat interested in owning one.

Age has played a role, it seems, in influencing who already has a drone. “Younger people are more likely to own drones than older respondents,” Ondrovic said. Of 18- to 35-year-olds, 17.4 percent own drones, compared to […]

By |December 7th, 2017|Institute|0 Comments