Marco Rubio a Strong Favorite Among Florida GOP Voters for Senate Candidacy, Saint Leo University Polling Results Affirm

A special June survey conducted among Florida Republican likely voters by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute showed strong preference for returning former GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio to the U.S. Senate to continue representing the Sunshine State, over one of the several other, lesser-known GOP candidates who have been running.

When Rubio entered the race for the GOP nomination for president, he said he would not seek re-election to his seat in the Senate. But now the South Florida Republican appears to be weighing a Senate run, and poll results from Saint Leo show voters undeniably favor him.

Saint Leo released these selected findings Friday from a more wide-ranging poll—still to be released starting next week—when one of the other GOP candidates for the U.S. Senate announced he was dropping out of the race at midday Friday. That candidate, U.S. Representative David Jolly of Florida’s St. Petersburg area, was selected by only 4 percent of the likely GOP voters as their choice among the slate of current candidates plus Rubio. By contrast, Rubio was selected by 52 percent.

And even when GOP poll respondents were asked their favorite among declared candidates—without Rubio—the other candidates fared poorly. More than half the respondents didn’t know whom they would select in the primary, which will be held August 30.

“These results clearly show that Marco Rubio starts in a strong position in his expected bid to win the GOP nomination,” said Frank Orlando, political scientist and director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute. “Rubio’s name recognition is so much stronger than that of his competitors that they’d need to work extremely hard to close that gap.”

Specifically, here is how GOP respondents answered two relevant questions in the online poll, conducted […]

By |June 17th, 2016|Institute|0 Comments

Three Out of Four Americans Register Concern Over Global Climate Change

More Than Half Note Warmer Temperatures, and More Floridians Are Watching Seacoasts

SAINT LEO, FL – Three-quarters of Americans are either very concerned or somewhat concerned about global climate change, remaining at the same level as last year, according to the latest national online survey from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( The percentage level of concern reported in 2016 was 75.1 percent, compared to 73 percent last year, which is essentially a statistical tie.

Strikingly, in peninsular Florida, a parallel survey of residents found that 81.3 percent were very concerned or somewhat concerned, a marked increase from last year’s poll around the same time when 67 percent felt that way. There was particularly sharp upward movement in the percentage of those who said they were very concerned, from 28 percent last year to 45.9 percent this year. Meanwhile, other percentage levels shrank. Those who reported they were only somewhat concerned fell to 7.6 percent from 18 percent in 2015, and those who said they were not at all concerned declined this year to 8.3 percent compared to 14 percent last year.

Few people surveyed said they don’t believe climate change is occurring: 4.1 percent nationally and 3.7 percent in Florida this year, versus 4 percent nationally and 8 percent in Florida last year.

“I think what these numbers are telling us is that awareness of global climate change is growing,” said Leo Ondrovic, PhD, a Saint Leo science faculty member and consultant to the polling institute.

The national survey was conducted from March 13 to March 17, 2016, nationally, among 1,015 adult respondents, resulting in a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. (The results can vary by that many points in either direction.) During […]

By |April 1st, 2016|Institute|0 Comments

Survey Finds Wide Support in Florida for Broader Access to Medical Marijuana, and Support for Consumer Solar Sales

SAINT LEO, FL – The Saint Leo University Polling Institute found considerable support in its March survey of Floridians for allowing state residents to use marijuana for medical reasons, and for allowing sales of surplus solar power by consumers with solar panels through new laws.

The polling institute anticipates continued high interest in the topics—even after the conclusion of the Florida Legislature’s session on March 11—and so measured public sentiment on the matters in its online poll of 540 Florida residents, conducted from March 13 to March 17, 2016.

In fact, Florida voters will be asked on their ballots in the general election in November 2016 whether the state constitution should be altered to allow residents to legally use marijuana for certain medical ailments. It would take 60 percent of the voters to approve for the measure to be enacted.

Governor Rick Scott on March 25 did sign a bill passed during the session that allows terminally ill patients to use marijuana to ease physical suffering, but the parameters for legal use under the new statute are much more limited than the broader ballot measure that voters will consider. The current survey indicates popular sentiment in favor of the spirit of the ballot measure.

Issue Statements PresentedTo Survey Respondents
Strongly Agree –       %
Somewhat Agree –      %
Total Strongly & Somewhat Agree – %
Strongly & SomewhatDisagree – %
Don’t Know –     %

The Florida Legislature should approve medical marijuana for Florida resident use

Florida residents, with solar panels or other means to collect electricity, should be permitted by new laws to sell surplus electricity to the grid or electric companies
9.5(6.7 + 2.8)


In spite of that support, opponents can be expected to advocate for the continued restrictions on marijuana use as the election draws closer, said Frank Orlando, […]

By |March 30th, 2016|Institute|0 Comments

New Poll Shows Americans Remain Conflicted on Issues of Firearms

SAINT LEO, FL – A new poll released by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute (  shows that 60 percent of those surveyed nationally say they think some new, additional limited licensing or permitting, and some restrictions on certain firearms such as assault weapons are necessary. Of the remaining balance of the 1,015 adults polled online March 13 through March 17, 2016, 24.9 percent said there should be no new, additional regulations or control of firearms for any reason. And 7.6 percent of respondents indicate they believed that firearms should not be owned privately.

More than three-quarters (78.3 percent) of Americans surveyed report the issue of gun control/gun rights will be very (49.3 percent) or somewhat important (29 percent) to them in the November 2016 elections. The Saint Leo poll showed 35.1 percent said they were more likely to support a candidate in November 2016, who opposes any new, additional controls on firearms. But a broader group supports candidates who favor some ownership control.

A parallel online poll of 540 residents in Florida generated similar findings.

“There is always a tension,” said Dr. Douglas Astolfi, Saint Leo history professor and polling institute expert. “People seem willing to live with curtailment of assault rifles, but don’t want to give up firearms they own.”

The Saint Leo poll shows 82.8 percent strongly and somewhat agree that active duty military should allowed to carry their firearms on U.S. military bases within the United States. The high figure indicates that respondents may be concerned following high profile, mass shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, and at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC, as well as attacks on recruiting and reserve stations in Chattanooga, TN.

Support for so-called open-carry laws was high as 55.1 percent said […]

By |March 29th, 2016|Institute|0 Comments

New Book by Pope Francis May Enhance His Popularity

SAINT LEO, FL – A new national poll by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute shows the popularity of Pope Francis continues to increase and one in five Americans are aware of his new book.

Nationally, 68.4 percent of the 1,015 adult respondents view him favorably and among Catholics, 88.1 percent. Also, about one in five Americans are aware of his new book, the first published since he became pontiff. His new work, The Name of God is Mercy, may be contributing to his approval rating. The book was published in January.

“The fact that among Catholics nationally, the pope’s current favorable opinion is higher now (88.1 percent) than it was in December 2015 (84.5 percent in Saint Leo’s December poll) could very well be due to the release of his new book,” said Dr. Marc Pugliese, Saint Leo assistant professor of theology and religion.

Some people say they are reading the book in groups at their churches or book clubs. “I’m not surprised that so many people have said they are or will be reading the pope’s book, and that there are so many who will be reading the book in groups,” Pugliese said. “Pope Francis seems to connect with people—and not just Catholics—in ways that other recent popes might not have. When I was in Philadelphia for the pope’s visit there, I passed a Presbyterian church that had a sign saying it is a ‘Pope Francis Church’ and that they were studying the pope’s environmental encyclical.”

Pugliese read the book and found it inspirational, and of potential interest to a broad range of Americans. It “contains themes that would resonate with both conservatives and liberals,” he said.

Saint Leo’s poll analysis examined the responses by various demographic groups. […]

By |March 29th, 2016|Institute|0 Comments

New Saint Leo University Head-to-Head Poll Shows Democratic Presidential Candidates Starting Race with Popular Lead

SAINT LEO, FL – In hypothetical head-to-head contests pitting the possible Republican presidential candidates against Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, either of the Democratic candidates would defeat a Republican challenger, a new poll released by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute shows.

The national online poll of 1,015 adults shows likely voters favoring U.S. Senator Sanders of Vermont over Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, with 51.1 percent saying they would select Sanders, while 37.4 percent said they would vote for the billionaire businessman. And in a Clinton-versus-Trump scenario, 47.7 percent report they would support the former U.S. Secretary of State, comfortably topping the 38.4 percent who said they would back Trump.

The margin of error for the poll was plus or minus 3 percentage points, meaning the results could be off by 3 points in either direction.

Ohio Governor John Kasich scored the highest among Republican candidates in the head-to-head hypothetical matches, but he still did not get above a tie and emerge a winner. He had 40.7 percent against Clinton, who got 42.4 percent; the margin of error makes that too close to call. Kasich garnered 38.4 percent when pitted against Sanders, who earned 44 percent.

Continuing the possible different scenarios, likely voters gave Sanders 49 percent when competing with U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who received 34.2 percent. In a Clinton-versus-Cruz race, Clinton earned 46.9 percent while Cruz secured 37 percent.

The poll was conducted March 13 through March 17, 2016, and did offer respondents opportunities to select Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. But Rubio announced that he was suspending his presidential campaign on March 15, following a loss in the primary in his home state.

“Head-to-head, it looks like a good start for the Democrats. They’ve […]

By |March 23rd, 2016|Institute|0 Comments

Candidates for Florida’s U.S. Senate Race Still Relative Unknowns

SAINT LEO –  Most voters in the Sunshine State still have yet to learn much about the people running for an important open seat in the U.S. Senate in the 2016 election, the newest Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey shows.

But with the Senate election occurring at the same time as a presidential election, the pool of candidates will try to raise their profiles among the public. At the same time, both Democratic and Republican party organizations will want voters to pay attention, as the seat party affiliation of the eventual winner stands to help sway the outcome of important votes on hotly contested issues coming up in the next year, according to Frank Orlando, Saint Leo University political scientist.

The U.S. Senate seat is coming open because current Republican Senator Marco Rubio vacated it to run for the Republican party nomination for president. He set aside that effort on March 15 after a disappointing showing in the Florida primary.

In an online poll of 540 Floridians, conducted between March 13 and 17, both Republican and Democrats (self-identified) were asked to report whom they would support if the primary election for the Senate seat was held that day. (It will actually be on August 30.) The polling institute was able to distinguish between the responses of likely voters and the overall population for each party, but results were nearly identical. And overall, more than half the voters in both parties simply don’t know yet.

Among 198 Republicans, 65.1 percent of likely voters said they did not know whom they would choose. The candidate with the highest percent of responses was Ron DeSantis, with 11.1 percent, followed by David Jolly with 10.1 percent. Carlos Lopez-Cantera was third with 7.4 […]

By |March 23rd, 2016|Institute|0 Comments

March Poll Shows Clinton and Trump as Likely Winners in Florida Primary Races; Trends Working Favorably for Democrats Overall

In Florida, billionaire Donald Trump is maintaining his lead among GOP presidential candidates, getting the support of 41.4 percent of likely Republican primary voters surveyed earlier this week by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute. Florida’s own U.S. Senator Marco Rubio trailed behind, attracting just 22.8 percent of the respondents in the online poll of 500 Republicans.

The likely Florida GOP voters answered the survey on March 8 and 9—with only days left before both major parties hold their presidential primary contests on Tuesday, March 15.  As for the other GOP candidates, 12.4 percent of the Republican respondents favored U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, and 10.8 percent will vote for Ohio Governor John Kasich. Another 12.6 percent said they are undecided.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute also polled 500 likely Florida Democratic voters during the same two days, and found U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton strongly in the lead with 59.4 percent selecting her over U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Sanders supporters amounted to 27 percent of those polled, meaning he was more than 32 points behind Clinton. The proportion of undecided Democrats was 13.6 percent.

Each poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Candidates are still campaigning hard in the remaining days before the primary, including in the influential Interstate 4 corridor from Tampa to Orlando. The geographic area includes the main campus of Saint Leo University, whose faculty members guide the Saint Leo University Polling Institute and analyze results.

Republicans Futures Examined

Political science Instructor Frank Orlando said upon reviewing the GOP contest that the trailing Marco Rubio is under intense pressure in his home state. “If he loses Tuesday, he’s effectively done,” said Orlando. “Even if he wins, […]

By |March 11th, 2016|Institute|0 Comments

Religion Can Play a Role in Americans’ Political Acts, But its Influence is Hard to Pinpoint

Faculty experts:

Dr. Michael Anthony Novak, theology,

Frank Orlando, political scientist,

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute asked adults in both its national sample and its separate Florida sample several questions about their attitudes toward religion and the intersection of religion and their thoughts and decisions on current events. As a basis of comparison, the respondents were asked about the role of religion in general decision.

In looking at the results, it is useful to know that the institute also broke out the responses of Catholics nationally (21.2 percent) from the overall U.S. base, which leans more toward non-denominational Christians (29.4 percent), with 19.3 percent following a mainline Protestant denomination. Only 2.7 percent of the national respondents were Jewish. More than 17 percent expressed no religious preference.

Even so, Americans reported in the following proportions that they strongly or at least somewhat agreed with the following statements (which were asked in this order).

I use my religious belief in my everyday life: 64.9 percent of Americans nationally and 71.4 percent of Catholics.
I use my religious beliefs as I make voting decisions: 43.4 percent of Americans, 47.1 percent of Catholics.
Presidential candidate Ben Carson was right to suggest a Muslim presidential candidate should be asked to choose between the U.S. Constitution and the Koran which conflicts with the U.S. Constitution; 46.8 percent nationally and 50.5 percent of Catholics.
The pope was right to call for an end to the arms trade and sale of weapons to other nations: 62.5 percent of Americans nationally and 71.4 percent of Catholics.
The United States is a secular nation that has been historically Judeo-Christian: 51.1 percent nationally, and 54.9 percent of Catholics.
The United States is a Judeo-Christian nation with secular activities: 37.6 percent nationally, and 39.3 percent […]

By |December 17th, 2015|Institute|0 Comments

Polling Results: Faculty Insights on Terror Risks and Public Perceptions

Contact information:

Christopher Wolfe, PhD, psychology,

Eloy Nuñez, PhD, homeland security,

The most recent survey results from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute results were so compelling on American fears resulting from the terror attacks in Paris that the subject warrants extended commentary from Saint Leo faculty experts. A few findings from the national results, collected from more than 1,000 adults:

Those who agree somewhat or strongly that they are “concerned about terrorism when attending large public events” were reported at 61.8 percent.
More than three-quarters, at 78.2 percent, strongly or somewhat agree that “It is likely ISIS terrorists are hiding among Syrian and other refugees in order to enter Europe and the United States.”
Two-thirds, at 66.9, percent agree strongly or somewhat with “a pause in accepting Syrian refugees into the United States until additional FBI background checks and approvals are added to the current screening process.”
Half, at 51.1 percent, disagree strongly or somewhat that “the U.S. and Americans have an obligation to accept Syrian refugees.” The cumulative percent of those who agree with the notion of an obligation was 39 percent.

Individual Worries About Homeland Targets

Dr. Eloy Nuñez, who teaches law enforcement and justice students about homeland security, noted the relatively high percent of people who feel uneasy about going to big events for fear of some kind of an attack.

There are no easy answers to that, apparently.

Dr. Nuñez noted that big events that attract lots of television coverage—say like a Super Bowl game—have been desirable targets for terrorists because they want broad spectrums of the public to become audiences to traumatizing events. On the other hand, Dr. Nuñez said, the security at such venues has become rigorous, and better able to repel threats. That can make terrorists […]

By |December 15th, 2015|Institute|0 Comments