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Trump Gains While Carson Declines in New Saint Leo University National Political Poll

Clinton and Trump Each Appeal to Voters as Strong on Security
Billionaire businessman Donald Trump has held steady as the leading presidential candidate among likely Republican voters surveyed nationally by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues to outrun significantly her lingering challengers in the party with the nation’s likely Democratic voters, and appears poised to lock the Democratic nomination, the poll suggests.

The two also ranked highest among likely voters of both parties when asked about the candidates likely to be most effective at keeping people safe from terror.

The poll was conducted November 29 to December 3, 2015, starting three weeks after the terrorist attacks in Paris. The sampling was largely completed by the time of the December 2 mass shooting in San Bernardino, CA, and so sentiments stemming from that event, now considered a terrorist attack, are not reflected in the poll results. More than 1,000 adults participated in this quarterly poll, and responses from likely voters among that base were examined for the best political insights. Some results below are compared to the analogous results gathered in the poll conducted October 17 to October 22, 2015, by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute.

Trump, Rubio, Bush, and Cruz Gain Support; Carson Declines

When Republican likely voters in the national the survey (who numbered 220 of the 1,007 respondents) were asked to name the candidate they would support if the Republican primary was held today:

Donald Trump gathered 29.1 percent, compared to 22.7 percent in the October survey.
Ben Carson’s support of 13.6 percent was a decline from the October political survey, when it was 22.2 percent.
S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida was selected by 11.4 percent, about the same as the […]

By |December 9th, 2015|Institute|0 Comments

New Saint Leo University Poll Shows Yearning for Safeguards After Paris Attacks

Faculty experts: Professor Douglas Astolfi, historian, (352) 588-8386, or; Instructor Frank Orlando, political scientist, (352) 588-8414 or

A new survey from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute—conducted since the Paris terrorist attacks—shows Americans now think of terrorism as the second-leading issue the nation faces. Americans are also personally concerned about attending large public events and about the adequacy of security measures generally.

The national online poll of more than 1,000 adults was conducted by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute between November 29 and December 3. The attacks in Paris occurred on November 3. The results were almost all collected by the time of the December 2 murders in San Bernardino, CA, (now considered terror-related) and so did not reflect feelings stemming from that event. The margin of error for these findings is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Questions and responses from this wide-ranging poll that deal with terrorism in one way or another follow.

When asked “what do you think is the most important issue facing the country today?”

The response “jobs and the economy” continued to hold the top spot, but the response level declined to 25.8 percent, compared to 32.4 percent in October. Meanwhile, the generalized response “terrorism” shot up more than 10 percentage points to 16.9 percent from 5.6 percent in October 2015, putting the issue in second place. The third-place issue was “homeland security and anti-terror policy,” (more domestic than global) at 15.1 percent, compared to 4.5 percent in October. Issues such as government spending and healthcare ranked higher in the fall.

When respondents were asked to indicate whether they strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree, or were unsure about policies and opinions in the news, these findings emerged:

More than three-quarters, […]

By |December 8th, 2015|Institute|0 Comments

More Information on In-State Tuition Rates for Undocumented Students

Although people nationally and in Florida showed mixed opinions about whether undocumented college-age students in America should have the benefit of in-state college tuition in the state where they live, a number of states have enacted such policies—through one means or another.

Florida, for instance, passed state legislation in 2014 allowing some provisions for in-state tuition rates for undocumented students.

The National Conference of State Legislatures ( reported in late October 2015 that 15 other states have passed legislation for the same purpose. Those states are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington.

The conference further reports that Oklahoma and Rhode Island extend in-state tuition rates to undocumented students through decisions by their boards of regents.

In all, 18 states have some provisions for in-state tuition for undocumented students. Of those, six states allow undocumented students to receive state financial aid, according to the conference.

The conference further reported that Arizona, Georgia, and Indiana specifically prohibit in-state tuition rates for undocumented students. And Alabama and South Carolina do not allow undocumented students to enroll at state colleges or universities.

By |November 18th, 2015|Institute|0 Comments

Infographic Release: Florida Views on Tuition for Undocumented Students

By |November 11th, 2015|Institute|0 Comments

Infographic Release: National Views on Tuition for Undocumented Students

By |November 11th, 2015|Institute|0 Comments

Energy Sources, Drawing of Political Districts, and Guns on Campuses Draw Divided Views in Florida

Potential Players in Next U.S. Senate Race Largely Unknown Statewide
A new statewide Florida poll by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute indicates Floridians want to see an expansion of the sources of energy available to them. The survey also found widespread displeasure with the Florida Legislature on redistricting work, and significant popular sentiment in favor of allowing faculty, staff, and administrators to carry guns on the campuses of state colleges and universities. The findings come from responses to four specific questions, all of which are reflective of issues that have come up before state legislators, who are in their final days of a third special session this week.

Floridians were also asked about whom they might support in GOP or Democratic primaries for candidates for a U.S. Senate seat in the next election, but people don’t seem to be thinking about that race yet.

The poll was conducted online October 17-22, 2015 among 521 residents, with the sample being reflective of the distribution of the population in Florida. The dates also overlap with the October 19 start of the third special session of the Florida House and Senate, which concludes November 6. The margin of error on responses for the overall sample is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. The survey was also able to further distinguish among the respondents to include likely voters, and even Democratic likely voter and Republican likely voters, with some increase in the possible margins of error for responses.

Energy Questions

The survey found that more than 72 percent of Floridians strongly agree or somewhat agree that people who have solar panels or other means of collecting electricity should be able to legally sell surplus electricity they generate. Florida power companies oppose such a […]

By |November 2nd, 2015|Institute|0 Comments

Majority Say They Are Willing to Pay Higher Taxes for Better Schools, Both in Florida and Nationally, New Poll Reveals

But Some Aspects of Student Testing are Vexing to Adults
Frustrated with a variety of issues in public education, nearly 60 percent of the respondents to a Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey conducted nationally and in Florida say they are willing to “pay somewhat more in taxes to better fund public schools in my community.”

In the national survey of 1,005 adults conducted between October 17 – 22, 59.7 percent agreed they would be willing to pay “somewhat” more in taxes. The margin of error on responses for the national results is plus or minus 3 percentage points. In Florida, where 521 people were surveyed during the the same time period, 59.9 percent agreed they would be willing to pay more. The margin of error on the statewide responses is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

The responses seem in keeping with a view held by 69.4 percent of those polled nationally, and 67.8 percent of those polled in Florida, that schools are either significantly or somewhat underfunded. Another segment of the survey group—17.2 percent nationally and 17.7 percent in Florida—believe schools receive “reasonable and balanced funding.”

Dr. Karen Hahn, longtime education faculty member at Saint Leo University, said the apparent willingness to put more money into schools is a bit surprising, but a welcome development. Some of the other sentiments expressed were also surprising, but understandable, she said.

For instance, 54.7 percent of respondents nationally, and 57 percent in Florida said the quality of public education in the United States today is either poor or very poor. (Possible answers were: very good, good, poor, very poor, or don’t know.) Yet in their own communities, the picture was reversed, with 54.4 percent nationally saying their local schools were good […]

By |October 29th, 2015|Institute|0 Comments

In Florida and Nationally, the Public Wants Means to Review Policing Practices, While Declaring Some Support for Departments

Diverse Views on Gun Ownership, But Mental Health Supports and Some Gun Restrictions Both Seen as Beneficial By Majorities in Survey
A new nationwide survey by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute found a strong majority think police should be required to wear body cameras, and that the U.S. Department of Justice should continue to investigate when controversial incidents have occur involving local police forces in their communities. Poll respondents in Florida concurred.

The poll collected responses from 1,005 adults nationally. It was conducted online October 17-22, 2015. Two parts of the broad poll dealt specifically with confidence in law enforcement and related public safety issues, and opinions in the wake of mass shootings. The margin of error for responses is plus or minus 3 percentage points. The polling institute also gathered opinions from 521 Floridians on the same subjects, and in those instances, the margin of error was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. Patterns were often alike between national and Florida responses.

Public sentiment proved strongest on matters of accountability. This was revealed in a section of questions that asked poll respondents to read several statements and to indicate whether they strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree, or were unsure.

National Strongly & Somewhat Agree
Florida Strongly & Somewhat Agree

Police officers should be required to wear body cameras to better assist in reviewing difficult incidents
86.8 percent
88.1 percent

The U.S. Department of Justice should continue to open investigations of community police departments following controversial incidents
79.0 percent
77.3 percent


“People think that it is important that the police be held accountable for their actions. That is evident from the strong support for body cameras (nearly 87 percent) and that the U.S. Justice Department continue investigating controversial incidents (79 percent),” said Dr. […]

By |October 28th, 2015|Institute|0 Comments

Ben Carson Nearly Ties with Frontrunner Trump Nationally Among Likely GOP Voters, while Jeb Bush Trails, Nationally and in Florida

Tightening of Democratic Field Helps Already-Strong Clinton; Any Break-Away Move by Trump from the GOP Field Would Boost Clinton’s Advantage
Retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson has basically tied with billionaire businessman Donald Trump as the leading presidential candidate among likely Republican voters surveyed nationally by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute.

Meanwhile on the Democratic side, likely voters nationally again put Hillary Clinton in the lead. Just as the poll was being completed, Vice President Joe Biden announced he will not run for the Democratic nomination.

The poll was conducted October 17-22, 2015, after the Republican debates on August 6 and September 16, and the first Democratic debate which occurred on October 13. In all, Saint Leo surveyed more than 1,000 adults. The number of likely Republican voters nationally who completed the poll was 225, yielding a margin of error of plus or minus 6 percentage points on results. Democratic likely voters included nationally numbered 259, also yielding a margin of error of plus or minus 6 percentage points on the results.

Carson Makes Impressive Show in Crowded National Field

Among likely Republican voters nationwide, those polled said their favored candidate was: Donald Trump (22.7 percent); retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (22.2 percent); U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, (11.1 percent); former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (8.4 percent); former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (5.8 percent); and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas (4.0 percent).

“We’re starting to see some ‘Trump fatigue’ setting in,” said Frank Orlando, instructor of political science at Saint Leo University. “Donald Trump thrives on the media attention. With the lull between debates and his upcoming ‘Saturday Night Live’ appearance (November 7), the soft-spoken, ‘anti-Trump’ candidate Ben Carson, has emerged as a viable candidate,” said Orlando.

Interestingly, Orlando […]

By |October 28th, 2015|Institute|0 Comments

Polls Suggests the Francis Effect Could Get Catholics into Pews More Often and More Donations Flowing

The enthusiasm generated by Pope Francis’ first trip to America may prompt some Catholics to attend Mass more frequently, and to donate more to Catholic causes, according to responses to a new survey conducted by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute.

The independent, nonpartisan institute affiliated with Saint Leo University conducted a special poll September 27-29, just after the end of the pontiff’s American visit, to assess his impact. Of American Catholics polled, 92 percent said they feel either strongly favorably or somewhat favorably about their pope.

Saint Leo University theologian Dr. Michael Anthony Novak  explained the resonance a pope can have among the flock. “​People sometimes wonder why the visit of a pope can have such importance for Catholics. Catholic spirituality is a sacramental spirituality. That means that Catholics see visible things as being signs of God’s invisible activity in the world: in the bread and wine of the Eucharist, or in the water of Baptism, to point to two major examples. In the same way, the pope’s actual job is to be the center of unity in the Catholic Church: he is the bishop of Rome, united with all the other bishops of the world. When Catholics encounter the pope, they can get a stronger sense of the unity in love that they experience in God, because the pope—in his office and in his person—is the visible sign of that unity within the global Catholic Church.”

So it was interesting to see the responses posed by the poll specifically to Catholics taking the survey about their level of engagement. (The poll contacted 1,000 Americans from a variety of faiths, and 26 percent identified themselves as Catholics. The margin of error for responses from the Catholic subgroup is plus or minus 6 percent, […]

By |October 5th, 2015|Institute|0 Comments