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Press Release for Wednesday, February 7, 2018

New UNF Poll Shows Sen. Bill Nelson Leading Gov. Rick Scott in 2018 Senate Election

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 Shows Sen. Bill Nelson Leading Gov. Rick Scott in 2018 Senate Election

President Donald Trump's Job Approval Rating Low, Improving

 

The Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida has a new poll that reveals Sen. Bill Nelson in the lead for the upcoming Senate election, with Gov. Rick Scott trailing close behind. The survey also shows that President Trump's job approval rating has risen some since last fall.

 

The poll, comprised of Florida registered voters, shows that of likely voters in 2018, 48 percent plan to vote for Nelson, the Democratic candidate in the upcoming election for U.S. Senate, while 42 percent plan to vote for Scott, the Republican. Of those likely voters, 7 percent don't know who their choice will be.

 

Regarding the U.S. House of Representatives, when asked who they would vote for if the election were held today, 42 percent of likely voters indicated they would vote for the Democratic candidate, 40 percent would plan to vote for the Republican candidate and 14 percent didn't know.

 

"Even though it appears Nelson has a reasonable lead in the poll, the election results will ultimately get determined by who shows up in November," said Michael Binder, faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Lab at UNF. "Historically, Republicans have enjoyed a turnout advantage in midterms, but with the current mood of the country, and a large number of Republican retirements, Democrats are optimistic about an impending blue wave."

 

Of registered voters who were asked whether they approve or disapprove of the way Nelson is handling his job as senator, 52 percent of registered voters claim to somewhat or strongly approve, with only 20 percent somewhat or strongly disapproving. Notably, 26 percent of voters expressed they don't know how Nelson is handling his job. When asked about the way Scott is handling his job as Florida governor, 63 percent reported to strongly or somewhat approve, with 31 percent disapproving either somewhat or strongly.

 

"Both senate candidates have net positive job approval ratings of 32 percentage points," said Binder. "This high level of job approval is very unusual and is going to lead to a hotly contested election."

 

When asked about how Sen. Marco Rubio is handling his job, 55 percent strongly or somewhat approve, compared to the 35 percent who reported to somewhat or strongly disapprove.

 

When asked about President Donald Trump's job approval rating, 43 percent of the overall sample strongly or somewhat approve of how he's handling his job, with 53 percent disapproving somewhat or strongly. A large amount of registered Democrats-87 percent-disapprove of Trump, while only 16 percent of registered Republicans disapprove. On the contrary, Trump held 81 percent job approval among registered Republicans, compared to 40 percent approval among nonpartisans and a dismal 10 percent job approval among registered Democrats.

 

"Most presidents would consider 43 percent approval and net negative 10 percentage points a troubling number, but Trump's approval is up 6 percentage points from his approval level in October, and his net negatives have improved by 12 percentage points," noted Binder.

 

In light of the recent investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election, when asked about the way Robert Mueller is handling his job as Special Counsel for the United States Department of Justice, 40 percent of registered voters somewhat or strongly approve, 28 percent of voters somewhat or strongly disapprove and 29 percent of voters don't know how he's handling his job.

 

"Even though Mueller is acting in a legal capacity, and has a 12-percentage point net positive job approval, there are partisan divisions as Democrats are much more supportive than Republicans in their views on Mueller," said Binder.

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 February 2018 Florida Likely Voters n=429** October 2017 Florida Likely Voters n=706* February 2017 Florida Registered Voters n=957
Bill Nelson, the Democrat 48% 37% 44%
Rick Scott, the Republican 42% 36% 38%
Someone else 2% 7% 3%
don't know 7% 20% 12%
Refusal - - -

*Respondents that indicated that they would vote in the upcoming senatorial election

** Respondents that indicated active voting and/or enthusiasm for the upcoming midterm election

 

By Party
Answer Options Democrats Republicans NPA/Others
Bill Nelson, the Democrat 86% 14% 42%
Rick Scott, the Republican 7% 79% 42%
Someone else 2% 1% 6%
don't know 5% 7% 10%
Refusal - - -

 

If the election for the U.S. House of Representatives were being held today, would you vote for (the Democratic candidate) or (the Republican candidate) in your congressional district?
Answer Options February 2018 Florida Likely Voters n=429**
The Democratic candidate 42%
The Republican candidate 40%
Other 5%
don't know 13%
Refusal -

 

By Party
Answer Options Democrats Republicans NPA/Others
The Democratic candidate 82% 6% 35%
The Republican candidate 6% 82% 26%
Other 2% 2% 13%
don't know 10% 10% 26%
Refusal - - -

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Bill Nelson is handling his job as United States senator?
Answer Options February 2018 Florida Registered Voters n=619 October 2017 Florida Registered Voters n=834 February 2017 Florida Registered Voters n=945
Strongly Approve 19% 12% 13%
Somewhat Approve 33% 23% 29%
Somewhat Disapprove 8% 9% 16%
Strongly Disapprove 12% 6% 12%
don't know 26% 49% 29%
Refusal 2% 1% -

 

By Party
Answer Options Democrats Republicans NPA/Others
Strongly Approve 28% 12% 14%
Somewhat Approve 41% 22% 38%
Somewhat Disapprove 5% 14% 3%
Strongly Disapprove 7% 22% 8%
don't know 19% 28% 35%
Refusal - 2% 2%

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Rick Scott is handling his job as governor of Florida?
Answer Options February 2018 Florida Registered Voters n=619 October 2017 Florida Registered Voters n=834 February 2017 Florida Registered Voters n=957
Strongly Approve 29% 26% 17%
Somewhat Approve 34% 33% 29%
Somewhat Disapprove 14% 15% 14%
Strongly Disapprove 17% 13% 26%
don't know 5% 11% 14%
Refusal 1% 1% -

 

By Party
Answer Options Democrats Republicans NPA/Others
Strongly Approve 12% 51% 25%
Somewhat Approve 30% 31% 41%
Somewhat Disapprove 19% 8% 14%
Strongly Disapprove 32% 3% 14%
don't know 6% 6% 5%
Refusal - 1% 1%

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Marco Rubio is handling his job as United States Senator?
Answer Options February 2018 Florida Registered Voters n=619 October 2017 Florida Registered Voters n=834 February 2017 Florida Registered Voters n=956
Strongly Approve 17% 13% 15%
Somewhat Approve 38% 29% 25%
Somewhat Disapprove 14% 18% 17%
Strongly Disapprove 22% 19% 31%
don't know 9% 20% 12%
Refusal 1% 1% -

 

By Party
Answer Options Democrats Republicans NPA/Others
Strongly Approve 7% 31% 13%
Somewhat Approve 29% 41% 46%
Somewhat Disapprove 21% 11% 9%
Strongly Disapprove 36% 9% 18%
don't know 8% 7% 12%
Refusal - 2% 1%

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Donald Trump is handling his job as president of the United States?
Answer Options February 2018 Florida Registered Voters n=619 October 2017 Florida Registered Voters n=834 February 2017 Florida Registered Voters n=957
Strongly Approve 30% 19% 28%
Somewhat Approve 13% 18% 16%
Somewhat Disapprove 9% 9% 7%
Strongly Disapprove 44% 50% 44%
Don't Know 2% 2% 4%
Refusal 2% 1% -

 

By Party
Answer Options Democrats Republicans NPA/Others
Strongly Approve 4% 64% 22%
Somewhat Approve 6% 17% 18%
Somewhat Disapprove 11% 4% 13%
Strongly Disapprove 76% 12% 44%
Don't Know 2% 2% 1%
Refusal 1% 1% 3%

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Robert Mueller is handling his job as Special Counsel for the United States Department of justice?
Answer Options February 2018 Florida Registered Voters n=619
Strongly Approve 19%
Somewhat Approve 21%
Somewhat Disapprove 11%
Strongly Disapprove 17%
Don't Know 29%
Refusal 3%

 

By Party
Answer Options Democrats Republicans NPA/Others
Strongly Approve 33% 7% 13%
Somewhat Approve 22% 21% 21%
Somewhat Disapprove 9% 16% 7%
Strongly Disapprove 11% 25% 16%
Don't Know 24% 28% 39%
Refusal 1% 3% 4%

 

How often do you vote in non-presidential elections? Rate your involvement on a scale of one to five, where one is never and five is always.
Answer Options February 2018 Florida Registered Voters n=619
One (never) 17%
Two 9%
Three 17%
Four 14%
Five (always) 43%
Don't Know 1%
Refusal <1%

 

Thinking about the upcoming Florida midterm election in November, overall, would you say you are:
Answer Options February 2018 Florida Registered Voters n=619
Not at all enthusiastic 27%
Somewhat enthusiastic 44%
Very enthusiastic 25%
Don't Know 3%
Refusal 1%

Survey Demographics

Party
Party Registration Florida Registered Voters n=619
Republican 35%
Democrat 38%
NPA and other 27%

 

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

 

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

 

Phone Type
Telephone Florida Registered Voters n=619
Landline 14%
Cell phone 85%
Don't Know -
Refusal 1%

 

Education
Education Florida Registered Voters n=619
Less than high school 3%
High school graduate 14%
Some college 51%
College graduate 19%
Post graduate degree 13%
Don't Know -
Refusal -

 

Income
Income Florida Registered Voters n=619
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%

 

Language
Survey language completed in… Florida Registered Voters n=619
English 98%
Spanish 2%

Methodology

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.

 

To determine likely voters, respondents were asked two questions related to the upcoming midterm elections. First, they were asked on a scale of one (never) to five (always), how often do they vote in non-presidential elections. Second, respondents were asked about their enthusiasm for the upcoming election (not at all, somewhat or very enthusiastic). Respondents who answered four or five for the frequency of voting question, or answered a three to the frequency of voting question and also answered somewhat or very enthused about the upcoming midterm elections were included as likely voters.

 

The margin of sampling error for the total sample is +/- 3.9 percentage points.The margin of error for likely voters in the November 2018 midterm election is +/- 4.7 percentage points. This study had a 13.8% response rate. 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 porl@unf.edu 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.

 

-UNF-