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 (http://polls.saintleo.edu) 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 think Libertarian Gary Johnson should be allowed to debate, and 53.4 percent wanting to see Green Party nominee Jill Stein join the debates.

“This is just another sign of dissatisfaction with the Republican and Democratic candidates,” Orlando commented. “Voters are looking for any reason to abandon the two major parties, and an appearance in the debate would certainly raise the visibility of candidates who are still not well-known.”

Survey respondents also rendered their opinions on the voting system and the broad electorate itself. The results were not terribly favorable.

About Casting Votes

  • 60.5 percent of likely voters nationally agree or somewhat agree that “voter fraud and manipulation of November results is a real concern and likely to occur.” In Florida, 55.4 percent of likely voters answered the same way.
  • 54.5 percent of likely voters surveyed nationally agree or somewhat agree that “voter suppression and efforts to keep eligible voters from the polls is a real concern and likely to occur.” In Florida, 55.6 percent of likely voters agree or somewhat agree.

Orlando notes that deeper within the data, political-party lines appear within these complaints. “It is interesting that these issues are already starting to become polarized, with Republicans far more likely to believe that voter fraud is likely to occur, and Democrats more likely to be wary of voter suppression.”

About Sitting It Out

  • Nearly 42 percent of likely voters nationally, and 36.6 percent in Florida, just might be unlikely voters instead. Those percentages agreed or somewhat agreed that, “This election, more than any I’ve experienced, has me frustrated and wondering if I’ll even vote at all.”

About Other Participants in Democracy

  • Only 40.4 percent of likely voters nationally, and 48.6 percent in Florida, agree or somewhat agree that they have faith in Americans to “make the right decisions in this November’s elections.”
  • Likely voters who specifically disagreed about having faith in Americans to make the right voting decisions first blamed “media bias” (68.8 percent nationally and 66.5 percent in Florida), but also other voters. A sum of 60.8 percent nationally said many people don’t pay attention to the issues or to the candidates’ stands, and 66 percent in Florida reflected the same sentiment. Lack of education or poor education, voter belief in candidate dishonesty about their records, and no attempt by voters to see other points of view were also blamed.

“As we’ve seen in the past, Republicans are more likely to be concerned about media bias than Democrats,” Orlando said. “This is exacerbated by Donald Trump’s continued battle with the media, despite the boost he received from the media due to increased visibility during the primaries.”

For more findings, see the poll report at http://www.polls.saintleo.edu

Media contacts: Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University, University Communications by email at   jo-ann.johnston@saintleo.edu or (352) 588-8237 or (352) 467-0843 (cell/text) or Mary McCoy, Saint Leo University, University Communications mary.mccoy02@saintleo.edu or (352) 588-7118 or (813) 610-8416 (cell/text)

More About Our Research

METHODOLOGY: The surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument from September 10 – September 16. The national sample included responses from 1,103 adults with 1,005 likely voters and has a margin of error of +/- 3.0 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

The Florida poll yielded responses from a parallel group of 502 responses, including 475 likely voters, and has associated margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. The sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantage of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed that is convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive—usually $1 deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account—for their participation.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about national and Florida politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis’ popularity, and other topics, can be found here: http://polls.saintleo.edu. You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University (www.saintleo.edu) is a modern Catholic teaching university that is firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition and the timeless Benedictine wisdom that seeks balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit. The Saint Leo University of today is a private, nonprofit institution that creates hospitable learning communities wherever our students want to be or need to be, whether that is a campus classroom, a web-based environment, an employer’s worksite, a military base, or an office park. We welcome people of all faiths and of no religious affiliation, and encourage learners of all generations. We are committed to providing educational opportunities to our nation’s armed forces, our veterans, and their families. We are regionally accredited to award degrees ranging from the associate to the doctorate, and we guide all our students to develop their capacities for critical thinking, moral reflection, and lifelong learning and leadership.

We remain the faithful stewards of the beautiful lakeside University Campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, where our founding monks created the first Catholic college in the state in 1889. Serving nearly 15,000 students, we have expanded to downtown Tampa, to other sites in Florida and beyond, and maintain a physical presence in seven states. We provide highly respected online learning programs to students nationally and internationally. More than 82,000 alumni reside in all 50 states, in Washington, DC, in three U.S. territories, and in 76 countries.