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

Pope Francis Coverage is High as Americans Tuned In/Followed Him During U.S. Visit

On average, Americans tuned in five times according to new national Saint Leo poll
The Saint Leo University Polling Institute today released results from a nationwide poll which assessed public views regarding Pope Francis’ recent visit to the United States. The pope played well in the media as audiences tuned in, watched, or read a variety of platforms, and multiple times, during a concentrated period.

Some of the significant survey findings include:

Visit awareness – 89.2 percent
Tuning in – on average, nearly five times
Strong interest – 78.2 percent
Impressive message recall – 71.2 percent

Visit Awareness is High

Using their best guess, respondents aware of the pope’s visit were asked to report the number of times they tuned into or read coverage of the pope’s visit to the United States., September 22-27. On a composite basis, respondents reported an average of 4.8 times. Among U.S. Catholics, surveyed, the percentage was somewhat higher at 5.0 times.

Message Recall Also Impressive

Nearly three-quarters of those at least somewhat aware of the pope’s visit (71.2 percent), noted they recalled reading, listening to, or watching a “great deal or some” of the pope’s messages. Recall among Catholics was higher at 86.2 percent.

“Pope Francis is very media friendly, telegenic, and savvy,” said Michael Anthony Novak, assistant professor, Department of Philosophy, Theology, and Religious Studies at Saint Leo University. “The pope came of age in the beginnings of the communications revolution, starting with the turn to international television, and he seems comfortable in adapting these increasingly casual forms of social media, along with continuing to use more formal and established modes of communication.”

Variety of Media Platforms Utilized

While television led as the most frequently cited source (79.7 percent), used to follow the pope’s visit, others used online news […]

By |October 1st, 2015|Institute|0 Comments

Saint Leo University Polling Institute Quantifies the Extraordinary Appeal of Pope Francis with In-Depth Survey

Pontiff’s Popularity Rises, Many Messages on Social Teachings and Ecology Embraced in Comprehensive Survey
Americans polled just after Pope Francis’ historic visit to the United States like the leader of the Catholic Church so much that three-quarters, or 75.8 percent, reported holding either a very favorable or somewhat favorable opinion of the pontiff, according to data collected by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute.

The nonpartisan survey of 1,000 respondents nationwide was conducted September 27 – 29, 2015, to capture Americans’ sentiments immediately following the end of the pope’s six-day visit. It was a special survey solely about Pope Francis and his impact, and conducted apart from the institute’s usual quarterly survey on politics and other topics in the public sphere. This poll included Catholics, other Christians, members of other faith groups, and those not affiliated with any faith group. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percent for responses gathered from the overall survey base. (Detailed information is at

“The pope is very popular, not just among Catholics, but also among Christians, and non-Christians,” said Frank Orlando, Saint Leo University instructor of political science. “In the past, politicians needed to work with the pope to help with Catholic voters. While between 20 and 25 percent of all Americans are Catholic, this pope is reaching almost everyone,” Orlando added.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute has been tracking the popularity of the pontiff across the broad population over time, and the most recent survey reflects a clear boost in the pope’s popularity. In a poll conducted in March 2015, 66 percent of respondents reported having either a very favorable or somewhat favorable opinion of Francis. In late September and early October 2014, 63 percent reported a very […]

By |October 1st, 2015|Institute|0 Comments

Polling Topic Back in the News: A Political Scientist’s Commentary on the Pope’s Environmental Encyclical

Frank Orlando
Instructor of political science
Faculty expert on American politics

Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, is winning plaudits for adhering to mainstream scientific belief on climate change and calling attention to its disproportionate effect on the poor. What effect will this have on the American political landscape? Pope Francis has maintained a high approval rating throughout his first two years as the Bishop of Rome. Parallels can be drawn between the way that President Obama used broad public support at the beginning of his term to pass the Affordable Care Act and the Holy Father’s attempt to influence the climate debate ahead of key meetings this year. While it is likely that Laudato Si will raise the salience of the issue for the American public, I believe that it will do more to change the pope’s approval ratings than alter opinions on climate change.

Despite the fact that Pope Francis has presented a cautious and complex document, most citizens will receive takeaway messages filtered through opinion leaders in a polarized context. Democrats will point to the pope as an example of the moral imperative of action on the issue. This may excite those who already believed something needed to be done and cause them to hold the pope in greater esteem, but the effect will be reversed for those who think the issue is overblown.

Voters are more closely tied to their party identification than religious affiliation. When these two identities are in opposition, they are more likely to dismiss the religious argument than their party’s platform.

At the margin, there will be some Catholic voters who shift their opinion on the issue, especially with the pope’s historic swing through the United States scheduled for […]

By |June 26th, 2015|Institute|0 Comments

Polling Topic Back in the News: Science Faculty Expert Commentary on the Pope’s Environmental Encyclical

Leo Ondrovic, PhD
Associate professor of biology and physics
Faculty expert on global climate change
I am personally very pleased to see that Pope Francis has taken the lead in calling everyone to act to combat threats to our natural environment in the encyclical. In it, Pope Francis focuses on “global environmental deterioration,” widely ranging from global warming, pollution, loss of access to clean water, losses of biodiversity, destruction of forests and woodlands, urban sprawl, and threats to our oceans. The encyclical does discuss many scientific findings and theories, but it is really more of a religious and philosophical argument. Pope Francis calls on “all of humanity,” and asks that we become “painfully aware” of the problem and dare to consider solutions. This is the right thing to do because “God has entrusted the world to us” and because “deterioration of the environment debases human life.” We are part of nature, and humans and nature coexist. The pope goes on to say that to commit a crime against nature is a sin against God and ourselves. He urges us to move gradually from what we want to what God’s world needs, and observes that “the natural environment and the human environment deteriorate together.”

The pope calls for fossil fuels to be replaced and for the development of renewable energies. He asks that we develop transportation and production methods that use less energy. He suggests that energy efficiencies should be increased, and discusses “obstructionist attitudes,” which include denials, nonchalant resignation, blind faith in technical solutions, and a more general lack of interest by the public to do what is needed. And he correctly observes that the rapid pace of human developments outstrips the slow pace of nature. As […]

By |June 26th, 2015|Institute|0 Comments