Latest Saint Leo University Survey Finds Americans Want to Keep Helping Charitable Causes in a Difficult Year

ST. LEO, FL – Americans are feeling a need to be charitable in 2017, although the year’s numerous natural disasters and resulting suffering has caused some individual givers to rethink where their gifts are most needed, the latest survey by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute shows (

The survey was conducted nationally November 19 to 24, 2017, Thanksgiving week, among 1,000 respondents. Results have a margin of error of + or – 3 percentage points. The scope of the national survey takes in people who saw wildfires leave communities bereft in the West, to those who pummeled by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana, and those threatened by the  Atlantic hurricane season in the East.

The institute also conducted the same survey the same week among 500 residents in Florida, where the entire peninsula was drenched by Hurricane Irma in September. Florida also possesses a geographic and cultural view of the suffering of the islands in the Caribbean during the storm season, including the devastation Hurricane Maria inflicted on Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory. The results from the Florida survey have a margin of error of + or – 4.5 percentage points.

When respondents received the Saint Leo survey and answered questions about charitable giving, results showed that on the whole, Americans are trying at least to keep pace with their patterns from the previous year. There is a slight uptick in numbers who are giving and increasing levels of giving. And smaller percentages seem to be giving less and not at all.

Charitable Donation Intentions Over Three Years


Thinking about your level of charitable giving throughout current year, would you say you will be…
U.S. – %
U.S. Catholics – %
FL – %
U.S.- %
U.S. Catholics – %
FL – %
U.S. – […]

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

Saint Leo University Poll Shows That Still Less Than Half the Public Favorably Regards Trump or Top GOP Pols as 2017 Draws to a Close

ST. LEO, FL – President Donald Trump’s approval rating by Americans in general and by Florida residents persists in the low 40-percent range, according to the latest survey by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute (

The survey was conducted online November 19 through 24, 2017 (Thanksgiving week), among 1,000 adults nationwide. The resulting margin for results is + or – 3 percentage points, meaning the actual answers could vary by that much in either direction. In Florida, another sample of 500 residents were survey using the same questions, and the margin of error is + or – 4.5 percentage points. Florida is home to both Saint Leo University and the Saint Leo University Polling Institute.

The polling institute has been tracking the favorability ratings of the president and other key political figures quarterly. Poll respondents were asked whether they strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disapprove of the jobs Trump and others are doing, or whether they are unsure. Answers for strongly or somewhat approve are added and constitute a favorable rating. Likewise, the answers for somewhat or strongly disapprove yield the unfavorable rating. The overall favorability sums are shown in the table, along with the breakdown.

Detailed Favorability Ratings for President Trump Over 2017

Bold number equals the sum of strongly approve and somewhat approve

Strongly/somewhat subtotals shown in parentheses

How would you rate …
U.S.  Approval % – November
Florida Approval – November
U.S. Approval – September
Florida Approval – September
U.S. Approval – March
Florida Approval -March

The job Donald Trump is doing as President
42.8 (20.2/22.6)


“It’s not surprising that President Trump’s approval is sliding, as this is a common occurrence as ‘honeymoon’ effects fade away. It is surprising to see Trump’s approval so low with the economy doing well,” said Frank Orlando, director […]

By |December 5th, 2017|Institute|0 Comments

Saint Leo University Poll Shows Pope Francis Remains Popular, His Advancing Cause of Poor Garners Highest Approval

ST. LEO, FL –  As his new book is released,  a poll shows Pope Francis continues to have a strong favorable opinion rating among Americans, especially Catholics; however, his popularity has dipped. An online poll by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( was conducted nationally during Thanksgiving week between November 19 and November 24, 2017, among 1,000 adults, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points in either direction.

The poll asked those surveyed if their opinion of the pope was strongly favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or not at all favorable. Overall favorability reflects the combined results of “strongly approve” and “somewhat approve” responses.

Francis’ favorability is 62.9 percent, according to the Saint Leo poll, which is down from 67.9 percent in September, and from 70.5 percent in March.

Among Catholics nationally, Pope Francis’ favorable rating is at 81.4 percent—down from 87.9 percent in September and 82.6 percent in March.

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

Francis’ new book, Happiness in This Life: A Passionate Meditation on Earthly Existence, discusses core issues of his papacy—mercy, support for marginalized people, and diplomacy, according to publisher Random House. Some of those issues also are examined in the Saint Leo poll.

Pope Francis received strong approval ratings (strongly and somewhat approve) for the job he is doing on human rights (65.4 percent) and advancing the cause of the poor (65.6 percent). He earned more moderate ratings on his job performance for environmental issues (53 percent), marriage and family issues (51.4 percent), immigration issues (49.8 percent), and handling cases of sexual abuse involving Catholic clergy (40.6 percent).

Among Catholics, Pope Francis earned […]

By |December 5th, 2017|Institute|0 Comments

Most Americans Observe Christmas, But Holiday Causes Anxiety, New Saint Leo University Polling Institute Survey Shows

ST. LEO, FL – While most Americans say they will celebrate Christmas in 2017, the holiday still brings its share of angst, 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. A large majority of Americans surveyed, 85.2 percent, say they plan to celebrate Christmas this year. Nearly two-thirds of those observing the season, 62 percent, agreed (strongly or somewhat) with the statement: “I enjoy Christmas but am usually glad when it is over.”

But not all was gloomy. Among 14 holidays measured, Christmas was viewed as the favorite by 33.6 percent of poll respondents.  Christmas was followed by Thanksgiving (14.6 percent), Fourth of July, (9 percent), New Year’s Eve/Day (8.4 percent), and Halloween (7.6 percent).

Most responding to the poll say their favorite holiday tradition is seeing family/family gatherings, cited by 75.2 percent, while giving presents comes in second at 64.7 percent. Those participating in the poll were allowed to give multiple answers as to their favorites. Rounding out the top five favorite traditions for Saint Leo University poll respondents are listening to Christmas music (54.1 percent); decorating the Christmas tree (48.1 percent); and opening presents (44.7 percent).

Those respondents also revealed what they consider the perfect age for children to learn about Santa Claus. An average of the responses indicates the average age to be told about the jolly old elf should be 8.95 years.

On the flip side, the most annoying tradition is the commercialization of the season, 42.4 percent of poll respondents say. Multiple responses were accepted for this question, too. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey shows the early start of the Christmas season coming in second as […]

By |December 1st, 2017|Institute|0 Comments

New Polls Shows Americans View Christmas as Cultural Vs. Religious

ST. LEO, FL – Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus as the son of God, but most Americans say they view the holiday as cultural rather than religious, a new survey released by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( shows.

The poll, conducted online November 19-24, 2017, asked 1,000 adults nationwide: “How do you view Christmas today?” Of the poll respondents, 43 percent say they think it is all or mostly cultural, while 31.3 percent say it is evenly cultural and religious. Saying they view Christmas as mostly or all religious are 15.3 percent, while 10.3 percent say they are unsure or have no opinion.

The decline in viewing Christmas as religious corresponds to a decrease in religious participation and a rise in secularism in general, said Dr. Marc Pugliese, assistant professor of religion and theology at Saint Leo University. “The reasons for these are hotly disputed,” Pugliese said. “One factor often mentioned is the distrust, even suspicion of, traditional authorities and institutions that has accelerated since the cultural revolutions of the 1960s.”

While historically many people turned to places of worship and religion to meet many of their needs, now they are turning to other sources, Pugliese explained. Others point to changing demographics including an increase in non-traditional families and growing “mixed marriages” of spouses of different religious and ethnic backgrounds to explain changes in attitudes toward Christmas and religion.

“It is important to note, though, that there is growing number of persons who identify themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious,’ with ‘religious’ referring to being affiliated with a major religious tradition,” Pugliese said. “These individuals do, however, have ‘religious’ beliefs and practices, but they are eclectic and piecemeal.”

Age appears to play a role in poll respondents’ […]

By |December 1st, 2017|Institute|0 Comments

Post-Hurricane Season, Saint Leo University Poll Finds Conditions Look Favorable for Rick Scott Race for U.S. Senate

ST. LEO, FL – A new survey by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute shows six out of 10 Florida residents hold a favorable opinion of current and term-limited Gov. Rick Scott’s job performance. The survey also shows Scott seems to be gaining in popularity in the widely anticipated U.S. Senate contest coming in November 2018 between Republican Scott and incumbent Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat.

The survey was conducted online November 19 through November 24, 2017 (Thanksgiving week), among 500 residents statewide. The margin of error for responses is + or – 4.5 percentage points. The polling institute has been tracking the favorable/unfavorable ratings of Scott over time with this question, receiving the following responses.

Would you say your opinion of the job Florida Governor Rick Scott is doing is…?

Rating of FL Governor Rick Scott
March 2017 – %
September 2017 – %
November 2017 – %

Very favorable

Somewhat favorable

Total: Very and Somewhat favorable

Somewhat unfavorable

Not at all favorable

Total: Somewhat unfavorable and Not at all favorable


Scott improved his unfavorable ratings in September notably by dropping 9 percentage points from the previous results in March. The September poll was conducted as Hurricane Irma was making its way through the state, and during a period when Scott was highly visible traveling around the peninsula to stress citizen preparedness and safety, noted Frank Orlando, director of the polling institute and a political scientist who teaches at Saint Leo University. “Rick Scott has enjoyed consistently strong approval ratings during 2017, and he certainly received a small bump for the way he handled a difficult hurricane season for the state of Florida,” Orlando said. “As the state’s economy continues to grow, his overall approval comes as no surprise.”

Meanwhile, the Republicans among the survey base (there were 166) […]

By |December 1st, 2017|Institute|0 Comments

Saint Leo University Poll Shows Americans’ Personal Cybersecurity Confidence is Shaky

ST. LEO, FL – As Americans conduct more personal and business activities online, we also report feeling more wary about the things that can go wrong and more cognizant of the cyber threats that exist, a new survey from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute shows.

For instance, those who say that their data is either very secure or somewhat secure when using the Internet was 55.1 percent nationally, down significantly from the 72.1 percent reported the prior year, when the Saint Leo University Polling Institute last surveyed on cybersecurity.

The latest online survey was conducted nationally during Thanksgiving week between November 19 and November 24, 2017, among 1,000 adults, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points in either directions. A separate sample of 500 adults answered the same questions in Florida, the home state of Saint Leo University and the Saint Leo University Polling Institute. Responses from Florida have a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points in either direction, but often mirror the national poll on this topic.

The results also shows this year a higher percentage of computer users report unease, compared to last year. Specifically, respondents gave these replies to the question:

In general, and overall, how secure is your personal data/information when using the Internet.
Would you say…very secure, somewhat secure, not very secure, not at all secure, or unsure?

Security of Personal Data While Using Internet
National  % November 2016
National % November 2017
Florida % November 2016
Florida % November 2017

Very secure

Somewhat secure

Total of Very and Somewhat secure

Not very secure

Not at all secure

Total of Not very and Not at all secure


More computer users are wary of networks, including those away from home, the survey also revealed. In 2016, for instance, […]

By |December 1st, 2017|Institute|0 Comments

Faculty Blog Post: Christmas Season Joys and Anxieties

The first Christmas wasn’t necessarily the happiest day ever. Days on a donkey, pregnant with nowhere to sleep, bright lights in the sky, both smelly bad and smelly nice strangers showing up to look at your baby….not screaming Rockwell. Maybe it was the mix….the bad and good…the normal and sublime that make that day, for at least one reason, one that we have built so many stories and traditions around. In our modern pseudo-cultural Christmas time, we have done our best to hide the ‘bad’ parts of Christmas, the anxiety or sadness, under the trappings of the good, the decorations and presents. Can we yet say that in the same way the Corvette signals something about the driver, a Christmas light extravaganza can also inform us on the occupant of the house?

The tendency to avoid the bad in favor of the good or at least the palatable is an old ‘finding’ in the world of psychology. Sigmund Freud described a host of defense mechanisms processes for avoiding or hiding our unconscious feelings or desires in socially acceptable trappings—prior to the turn of the century. More colloquial, our social adherence to a ‘fake till you make it’ mentality has led to us to the point where a smile is somewhat more circumspect than a frown.  Not a new finding, in 1967 Holmes and Rahe developed a Life Stress Scale. At the top of the scale, scoring 100 points, was the loss of a spouse. At the bottom of the scale, with a score of 12, was Major Holiday. Yes—there is metric to discern the relative difference between dinner with your in-laws and the death of your husband or wife! The holiday stress is not a new […]

Saint Leo University Polling Institute Finds Steady Pro-Police Sentiment Over Three Years, But Distrust from Some of the Public

Florida Results Presented in Context with Answers from 1,000 Adults Nationally
Support for Black Lives Matter Grew Markedly from 2016 to 2017
Overall Public Confidence in Criminal Courts and Juries Appears Muted

ST. LEO, FL – Surveys by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( show a pattern with somewhat more than 50 percent of the population espousing high levels of trust in police and police departments in America, while a persistent population of 20 to nearly 24 percent over three years reporting that they have little to no trust and confidence in departments and officers.

Also, the most recent survey in the series shows that as of September 2017, 90.5 percent nationally somewhat agree or strongly agree that police officers should be required to wear body cameras “to better assist reviewing difficult incidents.”  This question had 86.8 percent somewhat and strongly agreeing in 2015, and 89 percent in 2016.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute asked these questions, along with many others, concerning trust in policing and the criminal justice system during its wide-ranging national fall poll of 1,000 respondents. The survey was conducted from September 10 to September 16. The polling institute also surveyed 500 Florida respondents separately, but during the same time frame.

The polling institute has consistently visited this broad area of public concerns in its fall poll, beginning in 2015. With some specific topics, one or two questions have been added to keep pace with developing events. The margin of error for the polls is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the national sample, and 4.5 for the Florida sample, meaning the results could be off by that many percentage points in either direction. Generally, Florida (the home of Saint Leo University Polling Institute) mirrored […]

By |October 9th, 2017|Institute|0 Comments

Saint Leo University Polling Institute: How Florida and the U.S. Compare on Guns and Mass Shootings, Three Years of Findings

Each year in its fall poll, the Saint Leo University Polling Institute, has asked 1,000 or more adult respondents nationally about their attitudes on guns, gun control legislation, and possible policy responses to mass shootings. The margin of error on these surveys is plus or minus 3 percentage points. The most recent survey was fielded from September 10 to September 16, 2017.

Florida journalists: The institute asked the same questions of a parallel survey of 500 Florida adults in the same time period. The margin of error for responses is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. Florida results are shown on the right for comparison to national responses.

Support / Oppose Gun Controls–Questions as Asked and Responses over Three Years

Please think for a moment about your own position and beliefs about gun control. Which one of the following best reflects your own, personal position on gun control?

Choose one statement
September 2017
FL – 2017

There should be no regulations or controls on any firearms

There should be some limited licensing, permitting or some restrictions on certain arms such as assault weapons

Firearms should not be owned privately


Which of the following, given the number of mass shootings nationwide, best reflects your own personal position toward gun ownership and gun regulation?

Choose One Statement
September 2017
FL- 2017
FL – 2015

I continue to support gun ownership rights under the 2nd Amendment without exception and believe these mass shootings would be less frequent/horrific if more citizens were armed

I continue to support gun ownership rights under the 2nd Amendment without exception but don’t believe in an effort to arm more citizens

I support gun ownership rights but am open to more exceptions, regulations and restrictions

I continue to oppose private ownership of firearms


Government, on the state and federal levels, can […]

By |October 2nd, 2017|Institute|0 Comments