Skip to Main Content

October 24, 2017

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

 

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.

 

See our crosstabs by partisanship, sex, age, race, and education.

Survey Results

If the 2018 election for U.S. Senator from Florida were being held today, how would you vote if the candidates were…
Answer Options October 2017
Florida Registered Voters n=706*
February 2017
Florida Registered Voters
n=957
Bill Nelson, the Democrat 37% 44%
Rick Scott, the Republican 36% 38%
Someone else 7% 3%
Don't Know 20% 12%
Refusal - -

*Only respondents that indicated that they would vote in the upcoming senatorial election were included

 

By Party
Answer Options Democrats Republicans NPA/Others
Bill Nelson, the Democrat 66% 10% 32%
Rick Scott, the Republican 12% 68% 28%
Someone else 7% 5% 9%
Don't Know 15% 17% 31%
Refusal - - -

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Donald Trump is handling his job as President of the United States?
Answer Options October 2017
Florida Registered Voters n=834
February 2017
Florida Registered Voters
n=957
Strongly Approve 19% 28%
Somewhat Approve 18% 16%
Somewhat Disapprove 9% 7%
Strongly Disapprove 50% 44%
Don’t Know 2% 4%
Refusal 1% -

 

By Party
Answer Options Democrats Republicans NPA/Others
Strongly Approve 1% 43% 13%
Somewhat Approve 5% 30% 20%
Somewhat Disapprove 8% 12% 12%
Strongly Disapprove 84% 14% 51%
Don't Know 1% 4% 3%
Refusal 1% 1% 2%

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Rick Scott is handling his job as Governor of Florida?
Answer Options October 2017
Florida Registered Voters n=834
February 2017
Florida Registered Voters
n=957
Strongly Approve 26% 17%
Somewhat Approve 33% 29%
Somewhat Disapprove 15% 14%
Strongly Disapprove 13% 26%
Don't Know 11% 14%
Refusal 1% -

 

By Party
Answer Options Democrats Republicans NPA/Others
Strongly Approve 13% 49% 15%
Somewhat Approve 27% 33% 41%
Somewhat Disapprove 25% 6% 15%
Strongly Disapprove 24% 3% 13%
Don't Know 10% 9% 15%
Refusal 1% 1% 2%

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Bill Nelson is handling his job as United States Senator?
Answer Options October 2017
Florida Registered Voters n=834
February 2017
Florida Registered Voters
n=945
Strongly Approve 12% 13%
Somewhat Approve 23% 29%
Somewhat Disapprove 9% 16%
Strongly Disapprove 6% 12%
Don't Know 49% 29%
Refusal 1% -

 

By party
Answer Options Democrats Republicans NPA/Others
Strongly Approve 21% 5% 7%
Somewhat Approve 26% 21% 22%
Somewhat Disapprove 7% 12% 9%
Strongly Disapprove 3% 11% 3%
Don't Know 43% 49% 58%
Refusal 1% 1% 1%

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Marco Rubio is handling his job as United States Senator?
Answer Options October 2017
Florida Registered Voters n=834
February 2017
Florida Registered Voters
n=956
Strongly Approve 13% 15%
Somewhat Approve 29% 25%
Somewhat Disapprove 18% 17%
Strongly Disapprove 19% 31%
Don't Know 20% 12%
Refusal 1% -

 

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?
Answer Options Florida Registered Voters n=834
Government should insure everyone. 28%
Government should insure most people. 13%
Government and private insurance should have about equal roles. 31%
Private insurance should insure most people. 13%
Private insurance should insure everyone. 11%
Don't Know 2%
Refusal 1%

 

In your opinion, should LEGAL immigration into the United States be kept at its present level, increased, or decreased?
Answer Options Florida Registered Voters n=834
Present level 42%
Increased 30%
Decreased 20%
Don't Know 7%
Refusal <1%

 

Do you think that statues honoring leaders of the Confederacy should…?
Answer Options Florida Registered Voters n=834
Remain in public places as reminders of Southern heritage 40%
Be moved to museums where they can be viewed in historical context 47%
Be removed completely because they are symbol of slavery 9%
Don't Know 3%
Refusal 1%

 

By Party
Answer Options Democrats Republicans NPA/Others
Remain in public places 20% 67% 34%
Be moved to museums 60% 28% 54%
Be removed completely 16% 3% 8%
Don't Know 4% 2% 4%
Refusal <1% 1% 1%

 

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?
Answer Options Florida Registered Voters n=834
Progressive tax^ 67%
Flat tax* 29%
Don't Know 2%
Refusal 1%

^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.

Survey Demographics

Party Registration
Party Registration Florida Registered Voters n=834
Republican 35%
Democrat 38%
NPA and other 27%

 

Age
Age Florida Registered Voters n=834
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
Race Florida Registered Voters n=834
White (not Hispanic) 64%
Black (not Hispanic) 13%
Hispanic 16%
Other 7%

 

Gender
Gender Florida Registered Voters n=834
Male 46%
Female 54%

 

Phone Type
Telephone Florida Registered Voters n=834
Landline 14%
Cell phone 85%
Don't Know -
Refusal 1%

 

What is the highest grade in school or year of college you have completed?
Education Florida Registered Voters n=834
Less than high school 3%
High school graduate 14%
Some college 51%
College graduate 19%
Post graduate degree 13%
Don't Know -
Refusal -

 

What is your annual household income?
Income Florida Registered Voters n=834
Less than $25,000 11%
$25,000 to $50,000 21%
$50,000 to $75,000 21%
$75,000 to $100,000 13%
Above $100,000 21%
Don't Know 5%
Refusal 9%

 

What language was this survey completed in?
Language Florida Registered Voters n=834
English 98%
Spanish 2%

 

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.