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

Not All Election Wounds Healed, New Saint Leo University Poll Shows

But More Say They Are Mending Fences With Family, Friends

SAINT LEO, FL – A combative election season has left some strife among friends and families, a new survey by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( shows.

Respondents were asked if the contentious election cycle put them at odds with family or friends. Almost one-quarter, 23.8 percent, suggest they did find themselves in conflict with family/friends.

The national online poll of 1,001 adults was conducted from November 27 through November 30, 2016, and has a plus or minus 3.0 percent margin of error. A poll of 501 adults in Florida was taken at the same time and has a plus or minus 4.5 percent margin of error.

The political cycle overlapped this year with another set of topics that Saint Leo regularly explores. As a Catholic institution, Saint Leo University regularly polls on the impact of Pope Francis and his personal popularity. In the November poll, the pope continues to have a high favorability rating of 62.6 percent.

The post-election survey also asked about the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which was opened by Pope Francis in 2015, and which officially ended on November 20. Pope Francis called for continuing the year’s essence as a time of forgiveness and reconciliation. But those surveyed may not be ready to forgive.

Of those poll respondents who said they were estranged from friends and family because of the election, 40.6 percent say they have not forgiven those they are at odds with, 35.5 percent say they are working on forgiveness, 15.8 percent say they have forgiven some family and friends, and another 8.1 percent say they are unsure.

In Florida, more respondents say they have forgiven some folks—23.8 percent—and more say they are working on […]

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

New Saint Leo University Poll Shows Opinion of Pope Remains High

SAINT LEO, FL – Pope Francis continues to post a high favorability rating, according to a new Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( survey. Poll respondents were asked if their opinion of the pope is strongly favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or not at all favorable.

While his popularity dipped slightly to 62.6 percent overall, the poll shows among Catholics, 85.8 percent favorability, which is up slightly from 84.2 in September 2016, but down from 87.5 percent in the June 2016 poll.

In the time between polls, Pope Francis ended the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which began on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2015. “The attention given to its closing at the end of November may have drawn more attention to Pope Francis and positively affected his favorability rating among Catholics,” said Dr. Marc Pugliese, Saint Leo University assistant professor of theology and religion.

According to Saint Leo’s most recent poll, among 1,001 respondents, 62.6 percent hold a very or somewhat favorable opinion of Pope Francis. The September poll showed his favorability at 65.4 percent. In June 2016, it was 68.9 percent. The highest percentage 75.8 percent, which Pope Francis received in Saint Leo’s poll conducted in September 2015 after his visit to the United States.

“The pope has not been as ‘publicly active’ since September 2016 as he had been the year before in September,” Pugliese said, and this could account for a slight decline in Pope Francis’ favorability rating among the general population.

On September 4, 2016, he canonized Mother Teresa of Calcutta. “Many people—not just Catholics and religious people in general, but even those who are not religious—had great respect and admiration for Mother Teresa.”

The second factor contributing to the slight dip could be […]

By |December 7th, 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

Saint Leo Survey Finds Little Change in Gun Ownership Levels and Attitudes on Rights or Registration

Respondents Continue to Favor Increased Focus on Mental Health and Treatment

SAINT LEO, FL – The most recent Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( survey including questions on gun ownership and related sentiments found that more than 60 percent of individuals—nationally and in Florida—do not own any firearms.

This replicates the findings of the 2015 survey, completed around the same time of year. Saint Leo included questions on guns and public policy in a parallel survey conducted online nationally and in Florida from September 10 to September 16. The national survey attracted 1,103 responses, so the findings have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The Florida survey attracted 502 responses and so has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

The survey asked individuals what firearms, if any, they own, and allowed for multiple responses. Handguns were most frequently cited among those who own firearms.

Firearms owned         and type
2015 National
2016 National
2015 Florida  
2016 Florida 





Assault weapon(s)



There is not enough movement from year-to-year in any of the results to be statistically significant. Similarly, there was little change in people’s beliefs on gun control. People were asked which of three statements is closest to their own belief. The results are shown in descending order.


Position on gun controls –

Indicate which statement

best reflects your position 
2015 National             
2016 National 
2015 Florida  
2016 Florida 

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

There should be no regulations or controls on any firearms

Firearms should not be owned privately



Responses were more splintered when people were asked about their “own personal position toward gun ownership and gun regulation” given “the number of mass shootings nationwide.” No one […]

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