National News

Saint Leo Polls Show Voters’ Mindset

The Clinton Foundation and Trump’s conduct toward women are the two biggest factors in voting decisions, according to the Saint Leo Polling Institute.

The Polling Institute conducted surveys, capturing responses from 1028 likely voters from Florida and 1050 likely voters nationwide. With its results having a margin of error of plus or minus 3.0 percent, the poll was conducted from Oct. 22 to Oct. 26.

The poll recorded the presidential nominees favored by the responders by requesting the responders to select the candidates they would vote for if elections were held that day or select the candidate they actually voted for in early voting.

Hilary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, leads both the Florida and the nationwide polls with Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, trailing in second. Nationwide, 45.4 percent of decided voters support Clinton, while 34.2 percent of decided voters support Trump. In Florida, the poll demonstrated that 49.7 percent of likely voters support Clinton, while 36.7 percent of them support Trump. Both the national and Florida polls indicate that Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein are third and fourth place in the poll, respectively.

However, 11.6 percent of nationwide responders and 7.4 percent of responders in Florida are undecided. For those undecided voters, they were asked who candidate they lean towards. As a result, the support for Clinton increased to 49.3 percent nationwide and to 52 percent in Florida, while Trump’s support increased to 38.4 percent nationwide and 39.4 percent in Florida.

“With results like these that put Clinton at least 10 points ahead, the thing the Democratic campaign will want to do most is guard against complacency,” said Frank Orlando, director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute and professor of Political Science. “The campaign will still keep pressing voters to come out and cast ballots, and not feel they don’t need to bother.”

Numerous voters changed their mind about the candidate they were willing to vote for, with 14.2 percent of respondents nationwide and 9.3 percent in Florida claiming to change their mind in the previous month. The poll also captured the factors which contributed to their preference of one candidate over the other regarding the presidential elections. For 39.2 percent of voters nationwide and 39.4 percent of Florida voters, “Hearing about or seeing/hearing the recently released recording of Donald Trump describing his conduct toward women as well as his treatment of women including a former Miss Universe,” is a reason that changed that swayed their voting decision. Also, for 39 percent of voters nationwide and 40.5 percent of voters in Florida, “Learning more about the Clinton Foundation and ‘pay for play’ allegations,” is a reason they changed their minds.

Reflecting on these results, Orlando commented, “It seems as though these major campaign stories over the past month seemed to reinforce voter’s preferred candidates, rather than provoke a major shake-up.”

Despite the responders’ preferences, a majority agree that Clinton will be elected president, with 70.8 percent of responders nationally and 69.8 percent of responders in Florida predicting that Clinton will win the election. On the other hand, the remaining percentage of responders predicted that Trump will win.

Also, there may be some voters who support Trump’s claim that the elections may be rigged, which he stated in the third presidential election. When the responders were asked whether they strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree regarding the likelihood of widespread fraud in the polling process, 39 percent nationwide and 40.6 percent in Florida strongly agreed while 54.4 percent nationwide and 53.2 percent in Florida strongly disagreed. And regarding if the election is rigged due to media bias towards one candidate, 49.6 percent of responders nationwide and 48.9 percent of Florida responders strongly agreed, whereas 45.3 percent of responders nationwide and 46.1 percent of Florida responders strongly disagreed.

“People don’t like to believe that they supported a losing candidate. The rhetoric emanating from the Trump campaign allows voters to take solace in the fact that they were truly in the majority if not for forces conspiring to hold them down,” said Orlando. “Still, more Republicans are willing to make the softer claim of media bias than the harsher claim of voter fraud.”

Florida Senate Race

The poll also captured responses of voters regarding the Senate race involving Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democrat Patrick Murphy. This race is ever important nationwide because it will help “determine whether Republicans or Democrats control the Senate during the next presidential term.” According to the poll, 43.8 percent of likely voters support Rubio with Murphy’s support trailing 5 percent behind. Although 17. 4 percent were unsure who they support, when the polls incorporated those likely voters who were undecided and requested them to select a preference, Rubio’s support jumped to 52.5 percent, while Murphy’s jumped to 47.6 percent.

“This has become one of the seats that Republicans are relying on to hang on to control in the Senate,” said Orlando. “Marco Rubio has held a consistent lead in all three of our fall polls, and he’s running almost 20 points ahead of Trump in the state. Democrats seem to be more interested in pursuing gains elsewhere, though they’d still relish the opportunity to take away Rubio’s Senate platform leading into 2020.”

There is clearly more support in Florida for Rubio for senate rather than for Trump for president, as shown in the polls, even though both men are from the Republican Party. Possibly, Rubio is attracting the Hispanic votes in Florida, having publicized that he is of Cuban-American descent and he is fluent in Spanish. Also, according to Huffington Post as of 2015, Rubio is one of the only three Hispanic Senators.

“Perhaps the single biggest difference in support between Trump and Rubio is among Hispanic voters. Trump is losing that demographic by 30 points in Florida, while Rubio is winning among Hispanics by 20 points,” said Orlando.

For more information, go to the Polling Institute: http://polls.saintleo.edu

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