Saint Leo Poll Results on Target with Florida Primary Election Results

September 06, 2016

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute’s most recent survey held true in the August 30 Florida primary election results. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio won the Republican senate nomination by the exact 54 points as shown in the Saint Leo poll earlier in August. And the vote on Amendment 4 came within points of Saint Leo’s poll with the solar power issue passing at nearly 73 percent.

In Saint Leo’s poll on the Democratic U.S. Senate primary, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy showed much higher support among poll respondents than did his main competition, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson. The poll showed Murphy ahead with 47.7 percent of supporters and those leaning toward supporting him while Grayson garnered 17.4 percent.

Murphy _patrick

The August 30 results had Murphy earning 58.9 percent to Grayson’s 17.7 percent. Rubio earned 72 percent to closest opponent Carlos Beruff’s 18.5 percent.

“I'm happy to see that our results meshed so well with the results that we saw [August 30],” said Frank Orlando, director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute.

The most recent Saint Leo survey was conducted online from August 14, to August 18, 2016, among 1,500 adults in Florida. Of those 1,500 people contacted, 1,011 said they were 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. Of those responding to the Saint Leo poll, there were 479 Republicans and 532 Democrats.

The August 30 primary determined the final candidates from each of the two major parties to compete for the U.S. Senate seat in the November 8 general election. Florida is a closed primary state, meaning Republicans can vote only for Republican candidates, and Democrats only for Democratic candidates.

About the Democratic Senate primary, political scientist Orlando said, “The Democratic establishment got their man, but they were really helped by the personal issues that popped up in the Grayson campaign.”

Murphy’s résumé was called into question during the campaign, but Grayson “had his own more serious personal foibles, including allegations of spousal abuse during a previous marriage,” Orlando said.

Looking ahead to November, Saint Leo’s poll shows Marco Rubio versus Patrick Murphy: Rubio got 46.2 percent and Murphy, 38.1 percent. Another 15.7 percent were unsure. 

Though Rubio appears significantly stronger than either opponent, Orlando noted there is another factor to consider, given the presidential contest. The U.S. Senate race is “down ballot” from the Clinton-Trump  contest for the presidency, and results from the same Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey put Clinton 14 percentage points ahead of Trump—51.7 percent to 37.7 percent—among Florida likely voters.

Orlando is pleased with the Saint Leo University Polling Institute’s record regarding the August 30 election. “It shows that we're on the right track,” he said. “Obviously, no poll is right all of the time, but with our good performance in the presidential and now Senate primary, we hope to keep the momentum going and finish 2016 strong in November.”