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 websites (46.2 percent), social media (35.6 percent), conversations (25.4 percent), and print media (23.7 percent). Some survey respondents indicated they also followed the pope’s visit on radio (18.3 percent), radio talk shows (12.2 percent), or at places of worship (8.4 percent).

Sources for information utilized which helped “aware” respondents follow the pope’s visit are depicted in the following table. Multiple responses were accepted. Results are presented in declining order by composite data.


Sources Used to Follow Pope’s Visit Composite Catholic
Television coverage 79.7 89.3
Online news websites 46.2 49.6
Social media such as Facebook 35.6 38.5
Conversations with family, friends, co-workers 25.4 31.7
Print media (newspapers, magazines) 23.7 34.5
Radio coverage 18.3 22.6
Radio talk shows 12.2 14.7
Places of worship such as church, mosque, synagogue 8.4 16.7
Other 3.7 1.2


“The pope’s first visit to the Americas can be compared to other noteworthy historical events where people wanted to be present to witness history,” said Dr. Diane Monahan, associate professor of communication management, Department of Communication and Marketing at Saint Leo University. “Media allows people equal access to being a participant in the dialogue that shapes or could shape our nation’s future.”

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about Pope Francis’ U.S. visit, can be found here: http://polls.saintleo.edu. You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.

Methodology:  The poll sampled opinions of 1,000 approximately proportional to state population contribution nationwide. The survey was conducted September 27 – 29, 2015. All surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument. The poll has a +/- 3.0 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level on a composite basis.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about Florida and national 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 the Saint Leo University Polling Institute/Methodology

This Saint Leo University poll of 1,022 adults nationally and 535 Florida adults was conducted between May 25 and May 31, 2015. The margin of error on political questions (of likely voters only) is approximately 3 percent (national) and 4.5 percent (state) +/- with 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 advantages 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 dollar deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account—for their participation.

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University is a regionally accredited, liberal-arts-based institution known for an inclusive Catholic heritage, enduring values, and capacity for innovation. The school was chartered in 1889 by Catholic Benedictine monks in rural Pasco County, FL, making Saint Leo the first Catholic college in the state. Saint Leo provides access to education to people of all faiths, emphasizing the Benedictine philosophy of balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit.

The university welcomes learners from all generations and backgrounds, from civilian occupations and the armed forces, and from across the country and more than 60 nations around the world. Saint Leo’s 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students may elect to study at the beautiful University Campus in Florida, at more than 40 teaching locations in seven states, or online from other locations. The university’s degree programs range from the associate to the doctorate. Throughout these rich offerings, Saint Leo develops principled leaders for a challenging world.

Saint Leo University boasts nearly 80,000 alumni in all 50 states, Washington, DC, five U.S. territories, and 72 countries.

Media Contacts: Kim Payne, staff writer and media coordinator, at kim.payne@saintleo.edu or (352) 588-7233/(717) 798-1508 or Jo-Ann Johnston, academic communications manager, at jo-ann.johnston@saintleo.edu or (352) 588-8237/(352) 467-0843.