March 6, 2017
Media Contact: Joanna Norris, Director
Department of Public Relations
Methodology Results Contact: Dr. Michael Binder
Public Opinion Research Lab Director
New UNF Poll Shows Senator Bill Nelson Leading Governor Rick Scott
in 2018 Senate Election
A new poll of registered voters in Florida by the Public Opinion Research Laboratory (PORL) at the University of North Florida shows that, when asked about the 2018 election, 44 percent of Florida registered voters said they would vote to re-elect Sen. Bill Nelson, while 38 percent said they would vote for Gov. Rick Scott and 12 percent were undecided.
“Even though it’s very early in the 2018 election season, Nelson’s six-point lead is meaningful,” said Dr. Michael Binder, UNF Public Opinion Research Laboratory faculty director. “This race is going to get national attention and Rick Scott’s alliance with Donald Trump will likely factor into this election’s outcome next year.”
Although Donald Trump won the state in the presidential election, the majority of Florida’s registered voters—51 percent—disapprove and only 44 percent approve of the way Trump’s handling his job as president.
“Trump’s soft job-approval numbers could have huge implications during the midterm races, just ask all the Democrats that lost in 2010 when Obama’s numbers were the lowest they had been to that point, and Republicans that ran in 2006, when Bush’s popularity was plummeting,” noted Binder.
An even greater percentage of Florida registered voters—65 percent—disapprove of the way the U.S. Congress is handling its job, while 28 percent approve. When asked about Marco Rubio, 48 percent of Florida registered voters disapprove of the way he’s handling his job as U.S. Senator, while 40 percent approve and 12 percent don’t know.
“Even though Rubio was able to win re-election in November, he’s continued to have low job-approval numbers,” Binder said. “It will be interesting to see how his latest interactions with protestors affects his approval going forward.”
For Bill Nelson, 42 percent of Florida registered voters approve of his job performance as U.S. Senator, 28 percent disapprove and 29 percent don’t know.
“A 42 percent job approval isn’t a number an incumbent is usually happy about but with only 28 percent of the electorate disapproving of the job he’s doing, Nelson is a net positive 14 points. That difference in approval is greater than Rubio, Trump and his likely re-election opponent, Scott,” said Binder.
The majority—51 percent—of Florida registered voters disapprove, while 46 percent approve of Trump’s travel ban executive order, which prohibits travel to the U.S. for the next three months by citizens of seven majority Muslim countries. It also suspends the U.S. refugee program. Following national trends, Florida opposes the Trump immigration ban, but the state is divided, according to Binder.
For all of the controversy surrounding transgender rights, 62 percent of registered Florida voters don’t think using the same bathroom as a transgender individual would make them uneasy. The overwhelming majority—79 percent—don’t think transgender individuals are a sexual threat to children and women.
“Hopefully, findings like these can change the way the debate over the rights of transgender people is presented in the media,” said Dr. Curtis Phills, UNF associate professor of psychology. “Too often, which bathroom a transgender person uses is presented as controversial when, in fact, most people aren't concerned.”
For crosstabs by partisanship, gender and race, go to http://www.unf.edu/coas/porl/.
The Florida statewide poll was conducted by PORL Monday, Feb. 13, through Sunday, Feb. 26, by live callers via the telephone, and calls were made from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The sample of phone numbers was created through the voter file provided by Florida’s Division of Elections January 2017 update and selected through the use of randomization among registered voters. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by 247 UNF undergraduate students. Overall, there were 973 completed surveys of Florida registered voters, 18 years of age or older.
The margin of error is +/- 3.14 percentage points with an 18.5% response rate*. The breakdown of completed responses on a landline phone to a cell phone was 27 to 73 percent. The sample had quota for geography based on Florida media markets. The total sample was weighted by partisan registration, gender, race and age to match the active registered voters in Florida. This survey was sponsored by the UNF PORL and directed by Dr. Michael Binder, UNF associate professor of political science.
The PORL is a full-service survey research facility that provides tailored research to fulfill each client’s individual needs from political, economic, social and cultural projects. The PORL opened in 2001 and is an independent, non-partisan center, a charter member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) Transparency Initiative and a member of the Association of Academic Survey Research Organization. For more information about methodology, contact Binder at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (904) 620-2784.
*Response Rate 3 – AAPOR Response Rate 3 (RR3) includes an estimate of what proportion of cases of unknown eligibility are actually eligible.
Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Donald Trump is handling his job as President of the United States?
Florida Registered Voters n=957
Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way that the United States Congress is handling its job?
Florida Registered Voters n=966
Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Marco Rubio is handling his job as United States Senator?
Florida Registered Voters n=956
Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Bill Nelson is handling his job as United States Senator?
Florida Registered Voters n=945
If the 2018 election for US Senator from Florida were held today, how would you vote if the candidates were …… [ROTATE ANSWERS]
Bill Nelson, the Democrat
Rick Scott, the Republic
Would not vote
As you may know, Donald Trump signed an executive order, which prohibits travel to the U.S. for the next three months by citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries, and suspends the U.S. refugee program for four months while reducing the total number of refugees the U.S. will accept this year. Overall, do you support or oppose this executive order?
Florida Registered Voters n=960
Please tell me whether you agree or disagree with the following statements:
The idea of a transgender individual using the same bathroom as me makes me uneasy.
Florida Registered Voters n=958
Transgender people are a sexual threat to children and women.
Florida Registered Voters n=950
Florida Registered Voters n=973
White (not Hispanic)
Black (not Hispanic)
NPA and other
Florida Registered Voters n=969
65 and older
Survey Completed in…
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