GOP Incumbent Rubio Has Advantage over Democrat Challenger in Election for Senate Seat        

SAINT LEO, FL – Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has a small lead over GOP opponent Donald Trump, with Clinton attracting the support of 42 percent of likely voters nationally compared to 36.5 percent favoring Trump, according to the latest poll from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( Meanwhile, 11.5 percent of the voters said they were unsure. The survey was conducted September 10 to 16.

The results from a separate, concurrent sample of likely voters in the important state of Florida showed similar results. Clinton was ahead with 44.6 percent compared to 39.6 percent for Trump, and 10.7 percent unsure.

The survey followed up with uncertain, but likely, voters to ask which candidate they were leaning toward. When those responses were added to the tabulations for likely voters who had made their decisions, the trends followed the same general pattern, as shown in this table.

Party/Candidate Combined support – national

Voters leaning toward support and decided supporters

Combined support – FL

Voters leaning toward support and decided supporters

Democrat –  Clinton 46.2% (decided voters = 42%) 49.4% (decided voters = 44.6%)
Republican – Trump 41% (decided voters = 36.5%) 43.6% (decided voters = 39.6%)
Libertarian – Johnson 9.3% (decided voters = 7.6%) 5.7% (decided voters = 4%)
Green – Stein 3.6% (decided voters = 2.5%) 1.7% (decided voters =1.5%)


“This is a 9-point swing away from Clinton since our August poll findings” said Frank Orlando, director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute and a political scientist on the university faculty ( Clinton’s post-convention “bounce” has dissipated, Orlando said, and it appears reports about her health concerns, continued criticisms of email handling, and the perception of dishonesty around her campaign are wearing down her previous lead.

“This is probably a much closer race than the Clinton campaign thought they would be in at this point. The eyes of the nation will be on the presidential debate on Monday,” Orlando continued.

And in Florida, a close look at the demographics of the likely voters shows that Republicans are consolidating around Trump, Orlando said. But a gender gap in the state continues to favor Clinton, and may even set records this year, he added.

As for the other Florida race considered important at both the national and state levels, incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio leads his Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy by more than 9 points. The survey found 44.2 percent of likely voters favor Rubio, compared to 34.7 percent backing Murphy. Still, 21.1 percent said they were unsure.

“Marco Rubio has maintained a solid lead, and for the past few months his campaign has spent a lot of money defining Patrick Murphy. Murphy is still a candidate a lot of voters don’t know, and it appears as though he might not get as much help from the top of the ticket that he hoped for,” Orlando said.

The outcome of the Rubio-Murphy race has national ramifications with the Democrats and Republicans in a close contest to see which party will have the majority of seats in the Senate next year and the ability to pass or defeat new legislation, no matter who is president.

At the same time, 23.9 percent of the national sample of likely voters strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement that they plan to split their votes between political parties to ensure that one party is not left with control of the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate. In Florida, 21.1 percent of likely voters reported the same intention. That can work in Rubio’s favor with voters who will opt for Clinton, Orlando said.

When voters were presented with a list of nine commonly discussed issues (plus an option for other) influencing their Election Day national decision, jobs and the economy stood out. The combined work/economy issue was selected by 62.7 percent nationally, and 67.2 percent in Florida.

The survey also showed that more than two-thirds of likely voters—69.7 percent nationally—haven’t changed their mind from their original choice for president. Floridians are more steadfast with 75.4 percent saying they have not changed their minds. The undecided population among likely voters was reported at 13.9 percent nationally and 12 percent in Florida.

In the national survey, 1,103 adults responded, including 1,005 likely voters. The parallel Florida survey—expanded to include statewide electoral concerns—was conducted during the same September 10 to 16 timeframe among 502 respondents, including 475 likely voters.

Media contacts: Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University, University Communications by email at or (352) 588-8237 or (352) 467-0843 (cell/text) or Mary McCoy, Saint Leo University, University Communications 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 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.0 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

The Florida yielded responses from a parallel group and yielded 502 responses, with an 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: You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University ( 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.