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Latest Work from Saint Leo University Polling Institute Touches on Political Discourse, Guns, Climate Change, the Florida Governor and Pope Francis

Posted by University Communications on Mar 23, 2018 2:33:40 PM

Photo of Dr. Frank OrlandoThe latest work by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute reveals the American public has increased anxiety about gun policy as well as continued concern about global climate change.

The survey was conducted from February 18 through February 24 nationally with more than 1,000 adults participating. A parallel sample of 500 Florida residents were also polled on all the same topics.

Saint Leo University Polling Institute Director Frank Orlando (pictured) and other faculty members have been evaluating results and offering commentary on the polling institute’s specialized website at htttp://polls.saintleo.edu.

Three faculty members, including Orlando, who is a political scientist, wrote a special blog post on the issue of gun violence and gun policy from a variety of perspectives. They were prompted by the new levels of importance poll respondents assigned to the issues of gun violence and Second Amendments rights on a recurring list of topics that are part of the ongoing American political dialogue. The polling institute scheduled the survey for February, and it happened to reach online respondents a few days after the school shooting in Parkland, FL, that left 17 people dead. In the wake of the shooting, gun violence made it into one of the top three issues of concern nationally for Americans, advancing past government spending and the federal deficit, for instance. At the same time, concern over Second Amendment rights also moved up from previous rankings.

Photo of Dr. Christopher Wolfe

Psychology faculty member Dr. Christopher Wolfe (pictured) wrote about the way news of shootings are processed. Orlando wrote about voting patterns on gun control issues, and criminal justice faculty member Joseph Cillo, JD, explained a relevant Supreme Court case ruling. Their commentary is available here.

On another topic, for the fourth consecutive year, the institute polled on attitudes toward climate change. Three out of four Americans continue to express concern about climate change; the same results were found in Florida. In response to a new question added to the survey this year, about one of five respondents nationally and in Florida said individuals have a personal responsibility to act with care for the environment. And people of religious faith (no particular religion was specified) have a responsibility to care for the environment, a majority of poll respondents said.

The polling institute found that the popularity of Pope Francis high again, as the fifth anniversary of his papacy neared. Nearly two-thirds of Americans said they have a very favorable or somewhat favorable opinion of the pope, and nearly 86 percent of Catholics registered approval. Theology faculty member Dr. Marc Pugliese observed that Pope Francis’ popularity in the Saint Leo polls seem to rise during the Christian seasons of Lent and Advent. This survey was conducted at the beginning of Lent.

The survey also took its regular deep dive into national and Florida politics. Nationally, more than 80 percent of respondents reported observing a high level of political division among the population. The polling institute’s Orlando commented at length on the political mood. Orlando also discussed the relative popularity of Florida Governor Rick Scott ahead of a widely anticipated November run for the U.S. Senate.

Tags: Polling Institute, faculty

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