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Embargo for February 12, 2018 - 5 a.m. EST

Media Contact: Joanna Norris, Director

Department of Public Relations

(904) 620-2102


Methodology Results Contact: Dr. Michael Binder

Public Opinion Research Lab Director

(904) 620-2784


Crosstab (PDF) 


New UNF Poll Shows Florida Governor Candidates Lack Name Recognition Respondents Show High Support for Restoring Felon Voting Rights

The Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida has a new poll that reveals an overwhelming lack of name recognition among Democratic candidates and Republican candidates running for Florida governor. The survey also shows that a majority of respondents support restoring the voting rights of individuals with felony convictions.


The poll, comprised of Florida registered voters, asked respondents to give their opinion on Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham, Phillip Levine, Richard Corcoran, Ron DeSantis and Adam Putnam, all candidates running for Florida governor. Concerning the Democratic candidates, the percentage of respondents who had never heard of them ranges from 73 percent for Levine to 81 percent for Gillum. Graham had the highest favorability of the three Democratic candidates, with 11 percent viewing her favorably and 4 percent unfavorably, while 78 percent had never heard of her.


The Republican candidates didn't fare any better as 67 percent had never heard of Putnam, 72 percent never heard of DeSantis and 78 percent never heard of Corcoran. Putnam received the highest favorability among Republicans, with 14 percent viewing him favorably and 7 percent unfavorably.


"It's a little surprising that so few people have heard of the candidates, particularly Adam Putnam who has won two statewide races, and Gwen Graham, who is a former member of Congress and the daughter of former Gov. and Sen. Bob Graham," said Dr. Michael Binder, faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Lab at UNF. "These results highlight both the opportunities for the candidates to shape the voters' perception of them and the challenges they face in getting out their message."


The poll also shows that respondents show high support for restoring felon voting rights. When asked whether they would vote yes or no on a proposition to restore the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions, 71 percent of registered voters claimed they would vote "yes" on the proposition, with 22 percent who would vote "no."


"Amendment 4, the voting rights restoration measure, facing voters in the fall is so widely supported, even a majority of Republicans support it. What remains to be seen is whether or not an influx of money opposing this ballot measure will knock off enough support to prevent it from reaching the 60 percent necessary to pass," Binder said.


When asked whether they support or oppose lifting the bans on offshore oil drilling, 55 percent of registered Florida voters polled either strongly or somewhat oppose, while 37 percent strongly or somewhat support lifting the bans. Regarding DACA, respondents were asked about their views on illegal/undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. A large majority, 82 percent, supported letting them stay in the U.S. to eventually apply for citizenship, while 5 percent stated they could stay but not apply for citizenship. Nine percent claimed they should be required to leave the U.S.


"Even though DACA and offshore oil drilling will likely get sorted out at the national level, Floridians have strong opinions on these issues-very supportive of a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and opposed to opening up offshore oil drilling-and these opinions could very well influence the upcoming senate and gubernatorial elections," noted Binder.


Regarding some policies facing Florida's legislature, 59 percent of respondents strongly or somewhat oppose allowing concealed weapons to be carried on university and college campuses, with 35 percent in support. When asked about removing Florida's home rule, 47 percent strongly or somewhat oppose giving the state government additional power over local government decisions, while 30 percent support it either strongly or somewhat. A majority of respondents, 62 percent, strongly or somewhat support legalizing and regulating recreational marijuana, with 35 percent in opposition.


"This is the third time over the past year we've asked about concealed weapons on college campuses, and the results are remarkably consistent. Voters are opposed to changing the current restrictions, and it will be interesting to see if the legislature listens to their electorate," Binder said. "There is also opposition, though not nearly as strong, in scaling back Florida's home rule, something legislators may want to pay attention to before acting to fundamentally alter governance in Florida."


When asked about the most important problem facing Florida today, the most popular response was education at 20 percent, followed closely by health care, 16 percent, and crime, 15 percent. Out of all respondents, 52 percent either strongly or somewhat approve of the way that the Florida legislature is handling its job, with 33 percent disapproving either strongly or somewhat.

Survey Results

We'd like to get your overall opinion of some people in the news. As I read each name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of that person, or if you've never heard of them.


Democratic Candidates
Answer Options Andrew Gillum n=619 Gwen Graham n=619 Phillip Levine n=619
Favorable 7% 11% 8%
Unfavorable 4% 4% 5%
Never heard of him/her 81% 78% 73%
Don't Know 8% 6% 12%
Refusal 1% 1% 1%


Democratic Candidates Only Among Democratic Respondents
Answer Options Andrew Gillum n=232 Gwen Graham n=232 Phillip Levine n=232
Favorable 10% 15% 14%
Unfavorable 4% 3% 6%
Never heard of him/her 78% 75% 65%
Don't Know 8% 7% 15%
Refusal 1% <1% <1%


Republican Candidates
Answer Options Richard Corcoran n=619 Ron Desantis n=619 Adam Putnam n=619
Favorable 5% 10% 14%
Unfavorable 6% 5% 7%
Never heard of him/her 78% 72% 67%
Don't Know 11% 12% 11%
Refusal <1% 1% 1%


Republicans Candidates Only Among Republican Respondents
Answer Options Richard Corcoran n=218 Ron Desantis n=218 Adam Putnam n=218
Favorable 6% 14% 22%
Unfavorable 5% 3% 2%
Never heard of him/her 78% 71% 66%
Don't Know 10% 11% 10%
Refusal 1% 1% 1%


Amendment Four, on the statewide ballot for 2018, is called "Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative." This Amendment would restore the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation. The amendment would not apply to those convicted of murder or sexual offenses. If the election were held today, would you vote "yes" or "no" for this proposition?
Answer Options
February 2018
Florida Registered Voters
Yes 71%
No 22%
Don't Know 6%
Refusal <1%


Lifting bans on offshore oil drilling and allowing new offshore oil and gas drilling in the United States coastal waters.
Answer Options
February 2018
Florida Registered Voters
Strongly Support 18%
Somewhat Support 19%
Somewhat Oppose 14%
Strongly Oppose 41%
Don't Know 7%
Refusal 1%


Which comes closest to your view about undocumented/Illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, aged 16 and under?*
Answer Options
February 2018
Florida Registered Voters
They should be allowed to stay in the United States and to eventually apply for U.S. citizenship 82%
They should be allowed to remain in the United States, but not be allowed to apply for U.S. citizenship 5%
They should be required to leave the U.S. 9%
Don't Know 3%
Refusal 1%

*This question was a split sample with half the sample being read "illegal" and half the sample being read "undocumented". There was only one percentage point difference between the two different question wordings.


Allowing licensed individuals to carry concealed handguns into a college or university facility.
Answer Options
February 2018
Florida Registered Voters
October 2017
Florida Registered Voters
February 2017
Florida Registered Voters
Strongly Support 20% 21% 20%
Somewhat Support 15% 16% 15%
Somewhat Oppose 11% 13% 14%
Strongly Oppose 48% 46% 48%
Don't Know 5% 4% 3%
Refusal <1% 3% -


Removal of Florida's home rule, which grants additional power to the state government over local government decisions?
Answer Options
February 2018
Florida Registered Voters
Strongly Support 11%
Somewhat Support 19%
Somewhat Oppose 21%
Strongly Oppose 26%
Don't Know 21%
Refusal 2%


Legalizing and regulating marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol, limiting its sale to residents 21 years of age or older.
Answer Options
February 2018
Florida Registered Voters
Strongly Support 45%
Somewhat Support 17%
Somewhat Oppose 8%
Strongly Oppose 27%
Don't Know 3%
Refusal <1%


What do you think is the most important problem facing Florida today?*
Answer Options
February 2018
Florida Registered Voters
February 2017
Florida Registered Voters
Education 20% 20%
Economy/Jobs/Unemployment 13% 20%
Healthcare 16% 15%
Crime 15% 13%
Environment 10% 11%
Immigration 14% 10%
Terrorism 2% 2%
All of the Above (volunteered) 3% -
Drugs/Opioids (volunteered) 1% -
Other (volunteered) 4% 7%
Don't Know 2% 3%
Refusal <1% -


Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way that the Florida Legislature is handling its job?
Answer Options
February 2018
Florida Registered Voters
February 2017
Florida Registered Voters
Strongly Approve 9% 7%
Somewhat Approve 43% 32%
Somewhat Disapprove 18% 21%
Strongly Disapprove 15% 19%
Don't Know 13% 21%
Refusal 2% -

Survey Demographics

Party Registration Florida Registered Voters n=619
Republican 35%
Democrat 37%
NPA and other 27%


Age Florida Registered Voters n=619
18 to 24 9%
25 to 34 15%
35 to 44 14%
45 to 55 16%
56 to 64 18%
65 and older 28%


Race Florida Registered Voters n=619
White (not Hispanic) 64%
Black (not Hispanic) 13%
Hispanic 16%
Other 7%


Sex Florida Registered Voters n=619
Male 46%
Female 54%


Phone Type
Telephone Florida Registered Voters n=619
Landline 27%
Cell phone 73%
Don't Know <1%
Refusal <1%


What is the highest grade in school or year of college you have completed?
Education Florida Registered Voters n=619
Less than high school 3%
High school graduate 20%
Some college 41%
College graduate 21%
Post graduate degree 14%
Don't Know <1%
Refusal 1%


What is your annual household income?
Income Florida Registered Voters n=619
Less than $25,000 14%
$25,000 to $50,000 16%
$50,000 to $75,000 17%
$75,000 to $100,000 12%
Above $100,000 22%
Don't Know 7%


What language was this survey completed in?
Survey language completed in… Florida Registered Voters n=619
English 97%
Spanish 3%


The University of North Florida (UNF), Florida Statewide Poll was conducted by the Public Opinion Research Lab (PORL) at UNF Monday, January 29, through Sunday, February 4, by live callers via the telephone, and calls were made from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday.The sample of phone numbers was created through the voter file provided by Florida's Division of Elections September 2017 update and selected through the use of probability sampling among Florida registered voters in the Florida voter file. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by UNF undergraduate and graduate students. Overall, there were 619 completed surveys of Florida registered voters, 18 years of age or older.


The margin of sampling error for the total sample is +/- 3.9 percentage points. The American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) Response Rate 3 (RR3) calculation was used which consists of an estimate of what proportion of cases of unknown eligibility are actually eligible. The breakdown of completed responses on a landline phone to a cell phone was 27 to 73 percent. A single interviewer, through hand dialing, upon reaching the specific registered voter as identified in the Florida voter file, asked the respondent to participate, regardless of landline telephone or cell phone.


To ensure a representative sample being collected, the state was stratified using the 10 Florida designated market areas (DMA). DMAs are defined as regions where the population can receive the same or similar television and radio station offerings, as well as other types of media including newspapers and Internet content. In addition, because of Miami-Dade County's unique population, it was separately accounted for in its own strata, creating 11 strata from the 10 DMAs. Quotas were placed on each of these stratified areas to ensure a proportionate amount of completed surveys from across the state. Data were then weighted by partisan registration, gender, race, age, and education. Education weights were created from the 2016 American Community Survey (ACS). Partisan registration, gender, race, and age weights were created from the September 2017 update of the Florida voter file to match the active registered voters in the state of Florida. These demographic characteristics were pulled from the voter file list. All weighted demographic variables were applied using the SPSS version 23 rake weighting function. There were no statistical adjustments made due to design effects. 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 Transparency Initiative and a member of the Association of Academic Survey Research Organization. For more information about methodology, contact Dr. Binder at or at (904) 620-2784.


UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.