Likely Voters Continue to Support Medical Marijuana and Property-Tax Ballot Measures

SAINT LEO, FL – A new Florida survey from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute (  found continued strong support for all the proposed amendments to the Florida state constitution, with the notable erosion of popularity for the measure concerning consumers and solar energy. Controversy erupted over this measure on social media, and as the election has drawn closer, major newspaper editorial boards across the state have opposed the measure and termed it misleading.

In Florida, at least 60 percent of the voters have to approve a ballot measure for it to pass. During this election, Florida voters will be presented with four measures. The polling institute has been tracked public sentiment on all four measures during the summer. And in general, voters have favored the other measures to make medical marijuana available for a range of conditions under a physician’s care, and for certain property tax breaks for first responders and senior citizens.

The solar issue is the only one where the direction of public sentiment has changed course by more than 20 points. The most recent survey was conducted online from October 22 through October 26 among 1,028 likely voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

“This movement away from support for Amendment 1 is a sign that the social media campaign is working,” said Frank Orlando, political scientist and director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute.

“Opponents of Amendment 1 clearly don’t have the financial power that the utility companies do, but they’ve been very effective at getting their message out via forums like Facebook.  In addition, the fact that almost every major newspaper has come out against the amendment has made this a much tighter race,” Orlando noted, including the Tampa Bay Times, Miami Herald,

Orlando Sentinel, Sun Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Pensacola News Journal, and others.


Florida Ballot Measures June 2016 support – likely voters August 2016 support – likely voters September 2016 support – likely voters  October 2016 support – likely voters
Grants Florida residents the right to own or lease equipment that produces solar energy for personal use – Amendment 1 77.3% 81.4% 84.0 % 59.8%


Those opposing the measure in the most recent survey represented 27.9 percent of the respondents, while another 12.3 percent were unsure.

The change in the support base comes during the sometimes fierce argument about what the proposed amendment actually says and what its wording could mean for the production of solar power and Floridians’  accessibility to the alternative-energy source.

The first part of the actual measure describes an electricity consumer’s right to own or lease solar equipment—solar panels on homes­—and generate power for their own use. As this is a right Floridians already have under state laws and rules, skeptics have said this does not need to be added to the state constitution. And, the proposed wording does not say that consumers have the right to resell any excess power they generate, critics point out, which is a critical factor in establishing a broad market for solar power. Critics of the ballot measure include people who previously and unsuccessfully pushed for a different amendment that would have allowed people to sell excess electricity generated by solar power to their neighbors.

These and other skeptics of Amendment 1 also point to the second half of Amendment 1. The second sentence reads: “State and local governments shall retain their abilities to protect consumer rights and public health, safety and welfare, and to ensure that consumers who do not choose to install solar are not required to subsidize the costs of backup power and electric grid access to those who do.”

If such terms are actually applied to the market, critics say, that would translate into solar customers being charged higher costs, making traditionally generated electricity comparatively less expensive to buy. That would stifle the broad adoption of solar power, they contend, to the benefit of traditional utilities.

Proponents of Amendment 1 have been advertising the measure as the safe and reliable way to bring more solar power into the Florida landscape. And they say it provides financial protection to lower-income consumers who may not be able to afford solar panels.

Given the controversy and confusion over the issue, the polling institute added this additional question for the 614 respondents (the 59.8 percent of the base) who indicated support for Amendment 1.

Here are some additional facts regarding Amendment 1:  you already have the right to own solar equipment, the amendment may restrict your ability to lease solar equipment from third-party vendors, it could restrict the practice of net metering where excess energy is produced by solar cells and sent back to the grid to offset our own costs, and the campaign to pass Amendment 1 has strong support from Florida utility companies.


 Please indicate below if you continue to support Amendment 1 or the reasons (select as many as apply) that caused you to change your mind and oppose Amendment 1.


I continue to support Amendment 1 Number = 364 who answered this way


I already have the right to own solar equipment Number = 85


The amendment may restrict my ability to lease solar equipment from third-party vendors Number = 119


It may restrict the practice of sending back excess energy produced for an offset to my costs Number = 131


Amendment 1 is supported by Florida utility companies Number = 110



“Our data shows that the more the public knows about the possible consequences of Amendment 1, the less they like it,” Orlando commented. When the results above were factored into the institution’s calculations, support for Amendment 1 was actually only 35.4 percent.

Medical Marijuana and Property Tax Measures

Regarding the other measures, the proposed Amendment 2 has also been the subject of discussion in Florida and nationally. Proponents have said this is a common-sense solution to help people who are suffering a variety of ailments that cause chronic pain. Opponents dislike legalizing the drug, note that it is prohibited under federal law, and worry about creating an unmanageable social problems. Orlando noted: “We’ve shown Amendment 2 to be consistently above the 60 percent threshold. The only important question left there is turnout.  Can Amendment 2 backers get their voters to the polls in a way they couldn’t in 2014.”


Florida Ballot Measures June 2016 support – likely voters August 2016 support – likely voters September 2016 support – likely voters  October 2016 support – likely voters
Grants the right to use marijuana for the treatment of certain ailments when recommended by a physician – Amendment 2 65.1% 67.8% 68.8% 71.3%
Provides property tax exemptions for first responders disabled in the line of duty – Amendment 3 71.5% 76.7% 76.8% 75.4%
Locks home values in place for senior citizens eligible for property tax breaks – Amendment 5 65.8% 70.7% 77.1% 72.1%


The other proposed amendments, which grant property relief to two groups, have been favorably viewed fairly consistently.

In the case of Amendment 3, voters may know that Florida already grants tax relief to help survivors of deceased first responders. This measure extends the relief to those first responders who survived line-of-duty injuries, but were disabled.

Amendment 5, as written, could be applied by counties and municipalities to help lower-income, longtime resident senior citizens afford the taxes on their homes.

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: Our surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument between October 22 and October 26, 2016. These simultaneous polls contacted 1,028 Florida likely voters. Responses drawn from those sample bases have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.0 percent.

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.

More 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 16,000 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.