October 27, 2020
UNF Poll Finds Biden Leading in Florida Presidential Race

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UNF News Release

UNF Poll Finds Biden Leading in Florida Presidential Race

Florida Voters Feel COVID Restrictions Lifted Too Soon

| 10/6/2020

The Public Opinion Research Lab (PORL) at the University of North Florida released a new poll comprised of likely Florida voters showing former Vice President Joe Biden as the frontrunner in the ongoing presidential race. Results also reveal a majority of Florida voters believe state officials have eased off social distancing restrictions too quickly.

Of the voters surveyed, 51% indicated they intended to vote for Biden, versus 45% who stated they would vote for Trump. One percent of respondents said they would vote for someone else, while 3% are still unsure. When asked whether they agree that November’s election results will be fair and trustworthy, 72% said they somewhat or strongly agreed, while 28% said they disagree. Voters seem to be split along party lines on this issue, with 86% of Democrats agreeing that the results will be fair, compared to just 58% of Republicans. Respondents were also asked about the most recent presidential debate on September 29, to which only 27% responded that it was very or somewhat influential in their vote decision in the coming election, with 73% indicating it was not influential at all. A notable 42% of respondents indicated they plan on voting by mail, with early and election day in-person voting at just 29%, each.

“This vast majority of responses from this survey were collected on the two days immediately following the debate and do not account for voter concerns following the President’s recent COVID-19 diagnosis,” commented Dr. Binder, director of the Public Opinion Research Lab, ”This large six point gap between the candidates is likely attributed to the immediate aftermath of the debate. However, this is Florida, and I expect the election results to be very close once all the votes are counted.”

Regarding the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to replace Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, respondents were asked what scenario they would like to see in the coming months. Fifty-two percent stated they would like the candidate who wins the November election to nominate a justice after being sworn in in January, 42% said they would like to see the Senate confirm Barrett before the election, and 5% said they would prefer the President to nominate a justice after the election, but before the inauguration of the president elect.

“The fact that a Supreme Court Justice appointment became open mere weeks before the election, and that it isn’t the lead story, just goes to show how crazy 2020 is,” Binder said. “Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination combined with the concern about the integrity of the election in general, highlights the important political role that the courts play in this country.”

In addition to vote intention, respondents were asked about their approval of President Trump, along with Governor Ron DeSantis, and Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio. Trump received 46% approval, with 53% disapproval. Forty-seven percent of respondents approve of DeSantis’s performance, and 51% disapprove. Scott garnered 45% approval, with 53% disapproval, and Rubio had 46% approval and 51% disapproval. Among Hispanic voters, the Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio garnered just 41% approval and 55% disapproval.

“All of the Republican leaders in the state are underwater in their approval ratings,” Binder noted, “Perhaps due to voter’s concerns about their connections to Trump.”

Respondents were also asked how they would vote on the six state constitutional amendments on the Florida ballot. Regarding Amendment One, dealing with the citizenship requirement to vote in the state of Florida, 78% said they would vote to change the verbiage from “all United States Citizens,” to “only United States Citizens who are at least eighteen years of age, a permanent resident of Florida, and registered to vote, as provided by law, shall be qualified to vote in a Florida election.” Amendment Two, which would raise Florida’s minimum wage, garnered 60% support, with 37% saying they would vote no. Respondents also expressed support of Amendment Three, regarding changing to an open primary election system in the state of Florida, with 58% saying they would vote in favor of the measure, 36% against, while 6% are unsure. Forty-one percent of respondents said they would vote in favor of Amendment Four, requiring proposed amendments to the state constitution be voted on twice before taking effect, while 52% would vote no. Seven percent are unsure how they will vote.

Respondents overwhelmingly supported Amendments Five and Six, both dealing with expanding homestead tax exemptions. Amendment Five, which extends the period during which benefits can be transferred from one homestead to another, garnered 68% support, with 26% opposed. An impressive 88% of respondents said they would vote for Amendment Six, which extends homestead exemptions to spouses of deceased veterans with combat-related disabilities (please see survey results for full text of the amendments).

“One thing to keep in mind about ballot measures is they almost always poll much better than the final vote,” said Binder. “Florida has a 60% threshold required for passage and I would expect Amendments 2, 3 and 4 to have some trouble getting over that bar.”

Respondents were also asked about the coronavirus pandemic as it relates to the economy, at both the federal and state levels. Regarding the federal government’s response, 61% said they are not doing enough to support the economy during the pandemic, 9% said they are doing too much, and 29% said the federal government is doing the right amount. The state government had similar responses, with 59% saying they are not doing enough, 6% saying too much, and 34% the right amount. When asked about the easing of social distancing restrictions, 52% of respondents said the state government is moving too quickly, with 16% saying too slowly, and 32% about right.

When asked which impacts of the coronavirus pandemic they were most concerned about, 57% said the public health impacts, while 43% said the economic impacts. These findings differ from April of this year, when the PORL conducted its Statewide COVID-19 Survey, revealing 67% of respondents were more concerned about public health, versus 31% concerned about the economy. Most Florida Likely Voters believe that face masks help slow the spread of coronavirus, at 82%.

“Even though Florida has ended most COVID-19 restrictions, voters are still concerned about the virus,” Binder noted. “The past week has done nothing to ease concerns as the virus has swept through the President’s inner circle.”

Finally, respondents were asked several questions about racial equality and immigration. When asked if they believe that Black people and white people receive equal treatment by the police, 56% said they strongly or somewhat disagree. When asked the same question about police treatment of Hispanic people and white people, 53% disagreed. A majority of those surveyed (53%) believe police-involved deaths of Black people are signs of a broad problem of systemic racism, rather than isolated incidents (46%).

Regarding immigration, 22% said they would only vote for a candidate who shared their views on immigration, while 72% said it was just one of many factors to consider. Only 6% said that it was not a major issue. Immigration appeared to be slightly more important for Hispanic respondents, with 25% of those surveyed saying they would only vote for a candidate who shared their views, versus 23% of white respondents, and just 9% of Black respondents. Lastly, respondents were asked whether they support or oppose certain proposed immigration policies. Of the total sample, 49% support building a wall along the U.S. and Mexico border, 51% opposed; 79% support allowing undocumented immigrants the opportunity to become citizens, with 21% opposed; and 54% support closing federal immigration detention centers, with 44% opposed. Among Hispanic respondents, the proposals received 41%, 81%, and 55% support, respectively.

Considering Florida’s diverse population and high number of Hispanic voters, it’s no wonder issues of race and social justice are taking the forefront and will likely influence folks at the ballot box in November,” Binder said. “As a final note, this is 2020, and though many polls have showed a pretty stable race (unlike 2016) there is still four weeks until this election ends and a lot can happen.”

For details about the methodology of the survey and additional crosstabs by partisanship, age, race, sex, and education, visit the Recent Polls section of the PORL website.

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 Organizations (AASRO). As members of AAPOR, the PORL’s goal is to support sound and ethical practices in the conduct of survey and public opinion research. For more information about methodology, contact Dr. Michael Binder at porl@unf.edu or at (904) 620-2784.

About University of North Florida
UNF is a nationally ranked university in Jacksonville, Florida, nestled on a beautiful 1,300-acre nature preserve, featuring six colleges of distinction as well as nationally recognized flagship programs, with 60 bachelor degree programs and over 75 areas of concentration. UNF offers a unique student-centered academic experience that is creating the next generation of thinkers, leaders and problem solvers. More information at www.unf.edu.

Tags: Politics & Law, Government/Politics & Law, Press Release

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