A survey from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute (http://polls.saintleo.edu) found broad support for five ballot initiatives that Florida voters will encounter either during the August 30 primary vote, or the November 8 general election voting. Voters will be asked about policy ideas ranging from energy sales and tax breaks on solar panels to property tax matters and—possibly most prominently—about medical marijuana. In Florida, 60 percent of voters have to approve of amendments for the measures to pass.

So it is notable that the general support found for all the proposed measures has been steady since the Saint Leo University Polling Institute’s June survey.

The most recent survey was conducted online from August 14 to 18, 2016, among 1,500 adults in Florida. Of those 1,500 people contacted, 1,011 said they are likely to vote in the August primary. A larger base—1,380 people—said they are likely to vote in the presidential election (which fits with typical American voting behavior) on November 8. At those sample sizes, the margin of error for the responses shown in the survey is plus or minus 3 percentage points, meaning the support levels could actually be 3 points higher or 3 points lower than indicated here. In June, the Florida likely voters in the presidential election numbered 459, so the margin of error for the responses shown in that column is plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Florida ballot measures up for voter approval or disapproval in primary or general election Percentage support levels among likely voters from June 2016 poll Percentage support among likely voters in August 30 primary Percentage support among likely voters in November8 general election
Provides property tax exemptions for renewable energy devices – Amendment 4 (only one on August 30 ballot) 68.2 68.8 68.9
Grants Florida residents the right to own or lease equipment that produces solar energy for personal use – Amendment 1 77.3 81.0 81.4
Grants the right to use marijuana for the treatment of certain ailments when recommended by a physician – Amendment 2 65.1 67.3 67.8
Provides property tax exemptions for first responders disabled in the line of duty –  Amendment 3 71.5 76.5 76.7
Locks home values in place for senior citizens eligible for property tax breaks – Amendment 5 65.8 71.2 70.7


Saint Leo University Polling Institute Director Frank Orlando said the issues on the November ballot will probably get more attention from voters after the primary is over. Meanwhile, the ballot question that voters do have to decide on August 30—whether to provide property tax exemptions for renewable energy devices—“seems to be sailing to victory this month,” Orlando said. In essence, the measure would make it less expensive for private property owners and businesses to install solar panels or other renewable energy devices by excluding from the property tax assessments the actual value such solar installations create, so that property tax bills won’t climb simply because of the improvements. This policy would begin in 2018 and last for 20 years. The Florida Legislature decided this measure should be put directly to voters on a ballot.

Among the November ballot measures, Orlando said, “The perhaps misleading Amendment 1 is sailing past the threshold needed to become law. Solar power advocates claim that the amendment, backed by utility companies, will actually delay the development of power sharing.”

The opponents to Amendment 1 say the measure, as written, actually keeps the market for creating all solar power for existing power companies rather than allowing new entrants into the market. The opponents to this initiative include a group that had earlier, and unsuccessfully, pushed for an amendment that would have allowed people to sell excess electricity generated by solar power to their neighbors, for instance. Amendment 1 was proposed through petition.

Age Influencing Responses on Medical Marijuana and Property Taxes

“The most controversial ballot proposal of all, Amendment 2, seems to be polling ahead of where it did in 2014,” Orlando said. “This is good news for advocates of medical marijuana in Florida, and they seem to be in good position to capitalize on increased youth turnout in a presidential year. Over 70 percent of voters under 35 are in favor, while support is slightly lower for older voters. With Republican turnout possibly being depressed this year, it’s important to note that Democrats are 20 points more likely–76 percent compared to 56 percent–to favor medical marijuana than their GOP counterparts.” A petition campaign brought this amendment to the ballot.

Orlando noted that “unsurprisingly, the largest age gap we see happens on support for Amendment 5,” which would help freeze property tax levels for homeowners who are senior citizens. “While just about 60 percent of those under age 35 are in favor of locking in home values for property tax purposes for senior citizens, 80 percent of those over 65 are in favor.” The Florida Legislature proposed this amendment.

Relief for First Responders

Amendment 3 appears to have no opposition. There is currently a tax relief measure in place like this, but applies only to surviving survivors of first responders, not the responders themselves, so the amendment carries further the initial sentiment. The Florida Legislature suggested this.

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: All surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument from August 14 to August 18, 2016. This special statewide poll of 1,500 Florida adults includes more than 1,000 likely voters for questions about the August 30 primary, and 1,380 likely voters for questions on the general election. Responses to August questions have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.0 percent. This releases also refers to June findings from a sample of 459 likely voters. The responses collected then have a margin of error of plus or minus 5.0 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 polling 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 also can follow the institute on Twitter: @saintleopolls.

More 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 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.