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Saint Leo University Poll Finds a Scott v. Nelson Race in 2018 for Senate in Florida Would Be Tight

Respondents so far less invested in the field of candidates for 2018 governor’s election
ST.LEO – A new survey of Florida residents by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( finds that the state’s term-limited Republican governor, Rick Scott, and incumbent U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat, would be about tied if residents had to choose now between the two men for U.S. Senate.

Florida voters will choose in 2018 a U.S. Senator for the seat that Nelson now holds. The outcome of the race is important to legislative priorities nationally, as well as to Floridians, as the results could affect whether Republicans continue to control the U.S. Senate. Nelson is officially running for re-election. Scott is a presumed favorite to run, though yet has not made an official announcement. Scott is now in his second term as governor and his current term will expire at the end of 2018.

The nonpartisan polling institute asked 500 Florida residents to state their preference between the two politicians in a poll conducted from September 10 to September 16. The margin of error for the poll is 4.5 percentage points, meaning the actual results could vary by that much in either direction

The institute asked the same question back in March, and it was worded the same way. Both times the hypothetical results showed the contest was too close to call, though the slight advantage flipped this time from Nelson to Scott.

If the 2018 election for Florida United States Senator was held today and the candidates were Bill Nelson and Rick Scott, which would you support?

March 2017 results
September 2017 results

Bill Nelson

Rick Scott

Someone else



The polling institute also asked in both September in March if respondents had a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, […]

By |September 29th, 2017|Institute|0 Comments

Eliminate Youth Contact Football, New Saint Leo U Poll Shows

Nearly Two-Thirds Say to Offspring: Wait Until High School to Play the Sport
ST. LEO, FL – A majority of Americans say youths should not play contact football, according to a new survey by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey. The nonpartisan poll ( was conducted online among 1,000 American adults from September 10 through September 16.

The hard knocks and multiple concussions that football players often suffer during games and practice are cause for concern. Recent research showed that chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) was found in the brains of more than 100 former professional NFL players, some of whom committed suicide. The findings were published in July in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers from Boston University examined the brains of 202 deceased football players. The brains were donated to the program. CTE was “neuropathologically diagnosed in 177 players across all levels of play (87 percent), including 110 of 111 former National Football League players (99 percent),” The Journal of the AMA reported. The researchers noted that CTE may be related to prior participation in football.

Symptoms of CTE include confusion, memory loss, anger, depression, and even dementia. The issues can occur years after receiving the blows to the head.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute introduced the topic as follows:

“Recent studies have suggested that youth, at elementary or middle school age, playing or practicing football are suffering from increased numbers of spine and neck injuries, concussions and even elevated risk for heart attacks in otherwise healthy young people.  One recent study showed 7-year-olds are receiving ‘adult sized impacts’ when playing or practicing football.”

Poll respondents were asked four questions regarding youth football and concussions:

In general would you say you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or […]

By |September 28th, 2017|Institute|0 Comments

Pope Francis Remains Popular in National Saint Leo University Poll, Lowest Marks Earned for Clergy Sex Abuse, Immigration, Marriage Issues

Work on human rights issues and in helping the poor received the highest approval ratings
 ST. LEO, FL – While Pope Francis continues to garner favorable opinion in the most recent Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( survey, his lowest marks come on the issues of handling sexual abuse by clergy, immigration/migration, and marriage and family issues.

The nonpartisan poll was conducted online among 1,000 American adults from September 10 through September 16. As a Catholic university, Saint Leo’s polling institute examines American’s opinions about the pope in each quarterly survey.

Saint Leo’s poll shows the pope’s current favorable opinion rating at 67.9 percent—down from 70.5 percent in the March 2017 poll, and up from the 62.6 percent in the November 2016 poll. Among Catholics nationally, Pope Francis’ popularity increased, with 87.9 percent having a favorable opinion of him, up from 82.6 percent in the March poll.

While the Saint Leo poll routinely asks respondents to rate the job Pope Francis is doing on four issues, the September poll added two issues—one regarding sexual abuse by clerics and one about marriage and family. The poll asked, “How would you rate the job Pope Francis is doing on:”

Advancing the cause of the poor;
Human rights;
Environmental issues;
Handling cases of sexual abuse involving Catholic clergy;
Marriage and family issues.

Regarding his handling of sexual abuse cases, 46.4 percent of national respondents say they strongly or somewhat approve, while 30.8 percent say they somewhat and strongly disapprove of the pope’s actions. Of the 29.7 percent of respondents who say they are Catholic, 62.8 percent say they approve of the job Pope Francis is doing in regard to sexual abuse by clergy while 39.2 percent who identify as Christian say they approve. Of those who described themselves as […]

By |September 27th, 2017|Institute|0 Comments

Fewer than Half of Americans Approve of Trump’s Job Performance in New Saint Leo University Poll; Florida Residents Concur

Frustration apparent with Affordable Care Act repeal/reform efforts
ST. LEO, FL – A September survey conducted by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( found President Donald Trump’s approval rating nationally still in the low 40-percentage rage, close to where it was in March 2017, when the polling institute last asked American adults to rate the president.

A survey of 1,000 adults conducted September 10 through September 16 asked whether respondents strongly approved, somewhat approved, somewhat disapproved, or strongly disapproved of the job Trump is doing as president. Those strongly approving were 20.2 percent, and somewhat approving were 22.6 percent, creating an overall approval rating of 42.8 percent. That is a just a bit more than a point lower than the rating of 44.1 percent recorded six months previously—statistically not significant—so essentially Trump’s rating did not improve.

In Florida, where 500 respondents were polled separately, Trump’s approval rating slipped from 48.7 percent in March to 43 percent in September.

Biggest Worries and Specific Job Approval Categories
Survey respondents were asked to use the same scale of possible approval ratings on specific areas of the president’s job performance. Trump continued to get combined approval ratings of more than 60 percent nationally and above 69 percent in Florida for supporting troops and the military—the area where he scored highest.

But he slipped in a category with a general label of “keeping his campaign promises” by 11 points nationally, from 52.1 percent in March to 41 percent in September. In Florida, the decline was from 57 percent to 46.8 percent.

Approval of his performance in revamping the Affordable Care Act slipped nationally from 46.7 percent in March to 38.9 percent in September. That follows the president’s active entry into the debate on health care, noted […]

By |September 26th, 2017|Institute|0 Comments

Saint Leo University Poll Finds U.S.’s Political Divisions Persisting

Extreme elements at both ends of spectrum could be aggravating some tensions
ST. LEO, FL – Most Americans—eight in 10 according to the most recent survey from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute—say the country is more divided as a nation than ever before, just as a March survey from the institute found ( Floridians may feel a bit better than the national counterparts, but not much.

The results come from a wide-ranging survey of 1,000 adults nationwide, taken from September 10 through September 16. The same questions about national mood were also asked by the polling institute in March, using the same online technology, and allowing for comparison. While the national survey was being conducted, the polling institute also asked a separate sample of 500 adult residents of Florida the same questions. Florida is the home of the polling institute and its parent, Saint Leo University, as well as a politically significant state in elections.

Poll respondents were asked to respond to statements on a number of political and cultural topics including assessments of public mood, the state of democracy, political discourse, and permissible conduct during demonstrations. Respondents were asked in each case whether they strongly agreed, somewhat agreed, somewhat disagreed, or strongly disagreed with each statement, or whether they didn’t know.

The percent of those nationally who say they strongly agree or somewhat agree with the statement “We are more divided as a nation than ever before” was 82.1 percent, just as in March. And more respondents strongly agreed with the statement, 47.2 percent, than somewhat agreed, which was 34.9 percent. The breakdown was very close in March to the recent survey, though in March 50 percent strongly agreed, about 3 percentage points higher.

The situation in Florida […]

By |September 26th, 2017|Institute|0 Comments

Saint Leo University Survey Shows Deep Splits on Whether Confederate Symbols Should Stay or Go

Types of symbols cited in question include statues, plaques, memorabilia
ST. LEO, FL – A new survey by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( about Americans’ attitudes about contemporary political topics revealed stark divisions in views about Confederate symbols and history.

The nonpartisan survey was conducted online among 1,000 American adults from September 10 through September 16. A parallel poll was conducted among 500 adults during the same time period in Florida, the home of Saint Leo University and the Saint Leo University Polling Institute.

The survey revisited questions asked in March 2017 on political divisions among the population, and levels of public approval of the new Trump administration (see related press releases) to track views over time. In addition, because of recent controversies in several cities, two questions were added in September on views on the Confederate era and reminders of the Confederacy.

Looking at the country as a whole, about as many people favor removing Confederate symbols from public areas as oppose the idea: a 43.4 percent said they strongly agreed or somewhat agreed with removing Confederate statues, plaques, or memorabilia from public areas. Another 47.7 percent strongly disagreed or somewhat disagreed with the idea.

Given the national poll sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points (meaning the results could be off in either direction by that much), the two sides are roughly equal in number.

People polled in former Confederate states reflected the national trend.

A separate and parallel poll of Florida residents also tended to reflect the national pattern.

Within the national poll results, however, more differences are evident in comparing responses of the most populous racial and ethnic groups (The sample is drawn to accurately reflect the racial composition of America). […]

By |September 26th, 2017|Institute|0 Comments

New 2017 Poll on Climate Change Shows Concern Is the Norm Now

Detailed results available in tabular format compare Saint Leo results over three years
ST. LEO, FL – New nonpartisan survey work by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( shows that three-quarters of the adult population nationally consider themselves very or somewhat concerned about global climate change. The first year the survey was conducted, in 2015, the combined concern level was nearly as high, at 73 percent, and then nudged up in 2016 to 75 percent. It persists there this year.

The 2017 results show that when asked, “How concerned are you about global climate change?” 43.5 percent of adults were very concerned and 31.6 somewhat concerned, totaling 75.1 percent. The survey was conducted online among 1,073 respondents nationally between March 3 and March 11, 2017. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points in either direction. This is the same methodology used each year.

Additionally, the polling institute asked the same questions, for the third year, of a separate group of respondents from across Florida. They numbered 507 this year. Florida is the home of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute and often a bellwether of national political attitudes.

Assessing Concern about Global Climate Change

Possible answers
March 2017   U.S.
March 2016 U.S.
March 2015 U.S.

March 2017 FL
March  2016 FL
March 2015 FL

Very concerned


Somewhat concerned


Combined concern groups

Somewhat not concerned


Not at all concerned


Don’t know/not sure


In Florida, 75.5 percent of adults said they were very or somewhat concerned about global climate change, down from 81.3 percent last year. With the Florida responses, the smaller sample size leads to a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points in either direction, which makes the year-to-year change statistically modest.

The other options people had for answers to the question of level of concern were: somewhat not concerned (12.2 […]

By |March 24th, 2017|Institute|0 Comments

New Saint Leo University Poll Gives Pope Francis High Marks On Environment, Helping Poor, Human Rights Issues

ST. LEO, FL ­­– Approval for Pope Francis remains high, a new poll by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( shows, and the issues he is addressing also garnered approval.

The nonpartisan, online poll surveyed 1,073 adults in the United States from March 3 through March 11, 2017, and the results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Pope Francis’ current favorable opinion rating is 70.5 percent, up from 62.6 percent in November 2016.  Among Catholics nationally, the total favorable opinion is higher at 82.6 percent. That is down slightly from 85.8 percent in November and 84.2 percent in September 2016.  Saint Leo’s poll did have more Catholics responding in this polling period, with 29.9 percent saying they are Catholic, compared to 22.6 percent in November 2016.

To determine the pope’s favorability/unfavorability ratings, Saint Leo’s survey asked respondents whether they have strongly or somewhat favorable, or strongly or somewhat unfavorable opinions of Pope Francis. The strongly and somewhat sentiments—at both ends of the spectrum—are combined into an overall favorable or unfavorable rating. The survey also allowed respondents to indicate if they had not heard of Pope Francis or were unsure of their opinion.

The poll shows 33.6 percent report they have a strongly favorable opinion of Pope Francis while 37 percent say their opinion is somewhat favorable. Of those with unfavorable opinions of the head of the Catholic Church, 7.3 percent give somewhat unfavorable while 6.2 percent report their opinion as not at all favorable.

In another portion of the survey, they were asked their opinion about Pope Francis’ thoughts on the environment, immigration, and aiding the needy, and other issues.

Poll respondents familiar with the pontiff also give Pope Francis high marks on […]

By |March 22nd, 2017|Institute|0 Comments

New Saint Leo University Poll Finds Florida Divided on Scott’s Job Performance, But More Still Favorably Impressed

ST. LEO, FL – A bit more than half of adults in Florida have a favorable opinion of the job performance of Republican Gov. Rick Scott, results from a new Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( survey show.

The responses were gathered online from 507 adults from March 3 to March 11, 2017. The margin of error for responses is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Respondents were asked to indicate whether they view favorably or unfavorably, and at what level of intensity, the work of the governor, who is now in his second four-year term.  It turns out that a combined percentage of 55.8 percent either strongly or somewhat approve of Scott. The combined unfavorable percentage is 39.2. Just under 5 percent were unsure.

Very favorable
Somewhat favorable
Not at all favorable
Combined unfavorables

Rick Scott

Sample of 507 respondents

“With the Florida economy humming along, it is no surprise that Governor Scott is enjoying solid favorability ratings,” said Frank Orlando, political scientist and director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute. “This gives Scott a solid bargaining position in the current battle with Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran over the future of Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida.” (Corcoran is also a Republican.)

Even though Scott’s time as the state’s CEO is waning, the public’s current opinion of his job performance could still affect his career prospects. Republicans want someone to run against U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat, when his current term expires at the end of 2018. Scott’s second term as governor also expires at the end of 2018, so he could conceivably run for the U.S. Senate.

The poll asked Republican respondents to choose from a list of potential U.S. Senate primary candidates for that race, imagining that the primary was […]

By |March 21st, 2017|Institute|0 Comments

President Trump Job Approval Rating Sub-50 Percent

Trump Associates Also Rating Poorly in New Saint Leo University Poll
ST. LEO, FL – A new, nonpartisan survey conducted by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( found the nation’s three highest political office holders have job approval ratings only in the 40-percent range.

Starting at the top with President Donald J. Trump, 44.1 percent of respondents in the survey of 1,073 adults said they either strongly approve (23.4 percent) or somewhat approve (20.7 percent) of the job the new president has been doing since taking office on Jan. 20, 2017. The respondents answered the online survey between March 3 and March 11, 2017. The tallies have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The combined percentage of those who disapprove of the job Trump is doing came to just over half, at 51.2 percent. The percentage who somewhat disapprove was 10.8, but the percent who strongly disapprove is 40.4 percent. A little less than 5 percent are unsure.

“President Trump’s approval rating is historically low for someone at the beginning of their term,” said Frank Orlando, political scientist and director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute. “While part of this appears to be caused by the administration’s shaky start in several key areas, it is also caused by a hyper-polarized environment.  Republicans approve of President Trump at an 86.5 percent clip, while Democrats only give him 15.2 percent approval.  These percentages are unlikely to change very much over time, barring a major event.”

Vice President Mike Pence received a job approval rating in the same range: 45.5 percent overall (22.1 percent strongly approved and 23.4 percent somewhat approved). Fewer respondents disapproved of him as strongly as disapproved of President Trump, however. Overall, 43.4 […]

By |March 20th, 2017|Institute|0 Comments