October 24, 2017
Media Contact: Joanna Norris, Director
Department of Public Relations
Methodology Results Contact: Dr. Michael Binder
Public Opinion Research Lab Director
New UNF Poll Finds Razor Thin Lead for Nelson in Upcoming Senatorial Election
A new poll of registered voters in Florida shows those that indicated they will vote in 2018, 37 percent say they plan to vote for Sen. Bill Nelson, the Democratic candidate in the upcoming election for U.S. Senate, while 36 percent plan to vote for Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican and 20 percent don’t know who their choice will be.
Registered Democrats in the sample intended to vote for Nelson at 66 percent, while 68 percent of registered Republicans plan to vote for Scott. Interestingly, nonparty affiliates and other partisans are leaning toward Nelson at 32 percent, compared to the 28 percent that plan to vote for Scott.
When asked about Scott’s job approval, 59 percent strongly or somewhat approve of his job as governor, with 82 percent of registered Republicans approving of Scott and 40 percent of registered Democrats approving. Nelson, however, has a 35 percent overall job approval rate and only 15 percent disapprove. Surprisingly, 49 percent don’t know how he’s handling his job as senator.
“Like most statewide races in Florida, the senate race between Nelson and Scott is going to be too close to call all the way until Election Day,” said Michael Binder, faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Lab at UNF. “The one major concern for Democrats has to be the public’s lack of awareness of Nelson. When a three-term sitting U.S. senator has almost half of the sample unable to assess his job approval, you have a problem.”
When asked about President Donald Trump’s job approval rating, 59 percent of the overall sample strongly or somewhat disapprove of how he’s handling his job, with only 37 percent approving. A vast amount of registered Democrats—91 percent—disapprove of Trump, while only 23 percent of registered Republicans disapprove. On the flip side, there is 72 percent job approval for Trump among registered Republicans, compared to only 33 percent for nonparty affiliates and other party registrants and a measly 6 percent job approval among registered Democrats.
“Donald Trump is just as divisive in Florida as he is across the rest of the country, but as long as he maintains support from Republicans, I wouldn’t expect any major changes in his administration,” Binder noted.
Another issue sharply divided by partisanship is what to do about Confederate statues. Overall, 40 percent of respondents believe they should remain in place, while 47 percent believe they should be moved to museums and another 9 percent believe they should be removed entirely. However, 66 percent of registered Republicans believe they should stay, while 76 percent of registered Democrats believe they should be moved to museums or removed completely.
“As Tallahassee contends with newly introduced House Bill 235 dealing with Confederate statues, Floridians should take note of the partisan divisions on this issue,” said Binder. “Republicans dominate the legislature, and the Republican voters don’t want the statues moved; this presents a real dilemma for legislators facing public pressure to do something about this issue.”
Regarding income taxes, a large majority of registered voters in Florida—67 percent—prefer a progressive tax rate to a flat-tax rate. Only 29 percent prefer a flat federal income rate. When asked about the role of government and the private sector providing insurance, 41 percent thought that the government should insure most people or everyone. Only 24 percent believe private insurance should insure most or everyone.
“In the wake of Bernie Sanders’ presidential run and the struggles with Obamacare, there appears to be support for government to take on a larger role in providing health insurance to Floridians,” Binder commented.
The poll also shows very few Floridians want to reduce legal immigration, as 30 percent of registered voters want to see legal immigration increased and 42 percent want to keep immigration at present levels. “For all of the debate about illegal immigration and undocumented immigrants, Florida is very supportive of legal immigration,” Binder said.
For crosstabs by partisanship, sex, age, race, and education click here.
If the 2018 election for U.S. Senator from Florida were being held today, how would you vote if the candidates were…
Florida Registered Voters n=706*
Florida Registered Voters
Bill Nelson, the Democrat
Rick Scott, the Republican
*Only respondents that indicated that they would vote in the upcoming senatorial election were included
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=834
Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Rick Scott is handling his job as Governor of Florida?
Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Bill Nelson is handling his job as United States Senator?
Registered Voters n=834
Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Marco Rubio is handling his job as United States Senator?
There is much concern about the rapid rise in medical and hospital costs. Some people feel there should be a government insurance plan which would cover all medical and hospital expenses for everyone. Others feel that all medical expenses should be paid by individuals through private insurance plans like Blue Cross or other company paid plans. Which statement comes closest to YOUR position on this issue?
Government should insure everyone.
Government should insure most people.
Government and private insurance should have about equal roles.
Private insurance should insure most people.
Private insurance should insure everyone.
In your opinion, should LEGAL immigration into the United States be kept at its present level, increased, or decreased?
Do you think that statues honoring leaders of the Confederacy should…?
Remain in public places as reminders of Southern heritage
Be moved to museums where they can be viewed in historical context
Be removed completely because they are symbol of slavery
Remain in public places
Be moved to museums
Be removed completely
Now, I have a question about income taxes. Some people think that everyone should have the same tax rate, regardless of income, while others think that those with higher income should pay a higher tax rate. If you had a choice, which of these two options would you prefer?
Progressive tax ^
Flat tax *
^The poor would pay a very low percentage of their income in federal taxes, the middle class would pay a little higher percentage, and the rich would pay an even higher percentage.
* Everybody, regardless of income, would pay about the same percentage of their income in federal taxes.
NPA and other
18 to 24
25 to 34
35 to 44
45 to 55
56 to 64
65 and older
White (not Hispanic)
Black (not Hispanic)
What is the highest grade in school or year of college you have completed?
Less than high school
High school graduate
Post graduate degree
What is your annual household income?
Less than $25,000
$25,000 to $50,000
$50,000 to $75,000
$75,000 to $100,000
What language was this survey completed in?
Survey language completed in…
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