FAU PolCom Lab
| School of Communication and Multimedia Studies and Department of Political Science with Mainstreet Research
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New FAU Poll Delves Into Florida Voters’ Opinions
Examines Trump's Tenacity, Complex Views on the Israeli War and Unions
In the dynamic political landscape of Florida, a recent poll by the Florida Atlantic University Mainstreet PolCom Labsheds light on the sentiments among registered voters, revealing intriguing trends that could shape the state's political future.
Floridians Prefer Trump over Biden
If the presidential election were held today, 49 percent of Florida voters would cast their ballots in favor of Trump, compared to 39 percent for Biden. This 10 percent lead mirrors the results of a July survey issued by the FAU PolCom Lab, indicating a stability in voter preferences that may persist until the election.
President Biden grapples with a significant approval deficit, the poll indicates, with only 36 percent of registered Florida voters expressing a positive view of his job performance. Conversely, a substantial 62 percent view his performance negatively. In contrast, the survey indicates that former President Donald Trump continues to command a formidable presence in Florida politics; approximately 43 percent of respondents view him favorably, maintaining a solid base of support despite facing challenges on multiple fronts.
“The continued interest in Trump by voters isn’t just staying power of a celebrity candidate,” said Robert E. Gutsche, Jr., Ph.D., associate professor in FAU’s School of Communication and Multimedia Studies who researches Trump’s presidency. “Seemingly, he is just the kind of candidate these voters want in how he talks, what he talks about, and how he sees the world.”
Male voters exhibit an 18 percent higher inclination toward Trump, while whites and Hispanics express greater support compared to their black counterparts. Regionally, the Northwestern Panhandle emerges as a Trump stronghold, garnering around 65 percent support, while Palm Beach lags at approximately 41 percent.
Trump’s Legal Issues: Limited Impact on Voter Choice
Most respondents consider Trump’s legal issues important to their vote choice, the poll shows. However, a marginal 3 percent difference between the two candidates suggests that, as of now, legal issues are unlikely to significantly sway voter preferences in Florida.
“Trump's legal challenges appear to have little bearing on his electoral prospects in the state,” said FAU associate professor of political science, Dukhong Kim, Ph.D.
Biden Plagued by Age Perceptions. Trump Is Not.
While Trump seems to evade significant age-related scrutiny, Biden continues to be plagued by doubts about his fitness for a presidential rerun, with 67 percent of respondents expressing concerns. This sentiment is particularly pronounced among Republicans (86 percent) compared to Democrats (51 percent), underscoring the enduring nature of age-related critiques on Biden. This is in sharp contrast to the much smaller percentage of voters (33 percent) who felt Trump was too old to run. Younger voters (18 to 34) were more likely than older voters (35-plus) to believe both candidates were too old for office.
“This gap is likely driven in part by the perception that Trump is more energetic and as well as the former president’s frequent activity on social media,” said Kevin Wagner, Ph.D., professor of political science at FAU. “Part of it is driven by Trump’s frequent labeling of the President as ‘Sleepy Joe.’ The concerns about Joe Biden’s age are likely a major reason his support lags in Florida and why he trails both Trump and DeSantis in head-to-head matchups.”
Contrasting Trajectories and Divides in the Republican Primary Race
Amid the Republican primary race, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis finds himself struggling to narrow the gap with Donald Trump, despite some positive reviews in the primary debates. Even among his strongest demographic, college-educated white voters, DeSantis trails Trump by a notable margin of 9 points, the poll reveals. Nikki Haley shows signs of progress in Florida, but she remains in the shadows of both Trump and DeSantis.
“To emerge as a formidable contender, Haley must generate early momentum from pivotal states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, compelling Florida's Republican voters to take a closer look,” Wagner said. “In contrast, Vivek Ramaswammy's campaign in Florida appears to be faltering, with support dwindling in the Sunshine State. Although it's early in the race, the trajectory of his campaign does not bode well for future success.”
Support for Israel Strong, but Shows Weakness
Strong bipartisan support for Israelis remains across all age groups, genders and education levels although it is weakest among 18 to 35, the poll shows.
“What is particularly notable here is that the number of these younger voters who have no sympathy for either group or don’t know (35 percent) is greater than even those who support Israelis (34 percent) or Palestinians (30 percent),” said Rachel Harris, Ph.D., Gimelstob Eminent Scholar Chair for Judaic Studies professor and Director of Jewish Studies at FAU. “This suggests that there is a gap in historical knowledge about the conflict and the situation in the Middle East among this younger group.”
The only group where support for Palestinians is greater is among Black voters although that shows a greater degree of ambivalence across all categories.
“This may speak to efforts among activists since the 1970s to parallel the African American experience with the Palestinian experience,” Harris said.
Complex Views on Unions
The FAU PolCom poll reveals complex public sentiment toward labor unions, 55 percent of respondents expressed support, while 19 percent opposed, leaving 23 percent undecided. The data unravels a distinctly partisan pattern, with approximately 82 percent of union supporters aligning with Democrats, in stark contrast to the 31 percent of Republicans in favor.
“Florida is a right-to-work state, meaning that the state has legislation that prevents union enrollment from being used as a condition of employment,” said Luzmarina Garcia, Ph.D., a political science professor at FAU. “A small percentage of union members in the sample is to be expected along with less support of unions generally. This is due to less union members overall, leading to less organizing, as well as the Republican majority in the state which is conventionally thought of as the party opposing unions.”
Nevertheless, the research underscores a majority in the sample supporting unions, underscoring the intricate and nuanced nature of public sentiment.
Black and Hispanic respondents notably displayed higher support, at rates of 62 percent and 58 percent, respectively. Conversely, white college-educated respondents stood out as more likely to oppose unions, constituting 24 percent of the opposition. Union membership tallied at 8 percent of respondents, primarily comprising Democrats.
Across age groups, only 6 percent of young voters (18 to 34) opposed unions, a noteworthy contrast to the doubled or tripled opposition observed in other age brackets. The recent writers' strike, revolving around concerns about streaming's impact on compensation and AI's influence on the future of work, could have played a role in shaping attitudes, particularly among the younger demographic.
This poll was conducted from Friday, October 27th to Saturday, November 11th, 2023, among a sample of 946 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in Florida. The survey was conducted using text message recruitment to complete the survey. The margin of error for the poll is +/- 3.2% at the 95% confidence level.
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FAU Poll: Florida Republicans Steadfast in Commitment to Trump
New insights into the political landscape of Florida show the unwavering commitment of Florida Republicans to former President Donald Trump despite the official Presidential bid of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, according to a new Florida Atlantic University Mainstreet PolCom Lab [JG1] poll.
Although DeSantis and Trump enjoy significant popularity among Floridians, Trump maintains a formidable 20 percent lead over DeSantis among statewide GOP primary voters, with Trump capturing the support of 50 percent of Republican voters compared to DeSantis' percent.
“The poll highlights Donald Trump's quite durable support. He does especially well with white working-class voters, who have consistently formed a steadfast base for the former President,” said Kevin Wagner, Ph.D., professor of political science at FAU. “This persistent support continues to bolster Trump's strong and steady position within the party.”
The PolCom Lab poll further reveals that one in five Republicans perceive supporting a candidate other than Donald Trump in the primaries as disloyal, posing a challenging environment for any contender seeking to challenge the former President's dominance.
However, the poll also unveils a promising trend for DeSantis. The gap between Trump and DeSantis in Florida has narrowed by 7 percent since the PolCom Lab’s April poll results, indicating that the race has the potential to tighten as we get closer to the election.
The poll shows that DeSantis would defeat Biden by 13 percent (49 percent vs. 36 percent) among Floridians, which is larger than the 10 percent edge Trump has over the President. The poll also found that 54 percent of Floridians “Strongly” or “Somewhat” approve of the job DeSantis is doing as governor.
“These poll results could be an important motivator for DeSantis to promote his bid for the Republican primary, as he may be a stronger candidate against the incumbent,” said political scientist Dukhong Kim, Ph.D., associate professor of political science at FAU. “The poll indicates that the margin held by Trump or DeSantis at this time is larger than the 3.3 percent vote difference observed in the 2020 presidential election, suggesting that Florida is shifting towards becoming a safe state for Republicans.”
Other GOP Contenders Also Gain (Some) Voter Attention
Trump and DeSantis lead the political fight for the presidency among GOP voters, with other names holding limited traction. Notable figures such as former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Vice President Mike Pence are each garnering a mere 2 percent of support. However, minority candidates Tim Scott and Vivek Ramaswamy have drawn some interest, with 2.5 percent and 3.6 percent respectively. The poll shows Black and Hispanic voters having a more significant interest in minority GOP candidates.
The poll, conducted from June 27 to July 1, included a sample of 933 Florida voters. The margin of error stands at +/- 3.2 percentage points at the 95-percent confidence level, with higher margins of error in each subsample. The survey utilized automated telephone interviews (Smart IVR) for data collection.
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New Poll: Florida Republican Voters Overwhelmingly Support Donald Trump as 2024 Presidential Candidate
A Trump-DeSantis or DeSantis-Trump Ticket Also Seems Popular
Amidst massive legal battles involving former U.S. President Donald Trump and jockeying for control of the GOP that puts Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the public light, 69 percent of registered Republican voters in Florida still say they support Trump as the 2024 Republican presidential nominee, while another 18 percent say they “somewhat support” him, according to a recent poll conducted by Florida Atlantic University, in collaboration with Mainstreet Research.
According to the poll, Trump would win over DeSantis by a significant margin if the primary were held when the poll was completed between April 13-14. When the same group of voters was asked about their choice for the upcoming Republican presidential primary, approximately 6 out of 10 (59 percent) chose Trump, while about 3 out of 10 (31 percent) chose DeSantis.
“Former President Trump continues to be a strong candidate for the Republican nomination and his support appears durable and consistent,” said Kevin Wagner, Ph.D., professor of political science at FAU.
The poll collected the opinions of 1,081 registered voters in Florida and was conducted by Mainstreet Research and the Department of Political Science and School of Communication and Multimedia Studies within the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters at FAU.
Still, those polled suggest Trump and DeSantis are connected at the hip through a potential GOP presidential ticket: 45 percent of Republican voters chose him as their second choice for the upcoming Republican presidential primary, while 23 percent chose Trump as their second choice.
“So far, none of the other candidates are close, and it looks like a two-man race,” said Luzmarina Garcia, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at FAU. “However, even this early in the race, the vast majority of Republican respondents indicated that they had made up their minds for a presidential candidate.”
However, the poll reveals regional and generational gaps among Republican voters. Trump wins decisively against DeSantis in the Tampa Bay area (69 percent for Trump vs. 22 percent for DeSantis); in southwest Florida (80 percent for Trump vs. 7 percent for DeSantis); and in Palm Beach County (65 percent for Trump vs. 33 percent for DeSantis). However, in northwest Florida, Trump and DeSantis tie with 43 percent each. As for the generational gap, Trump wins 66 percent of support among voters who are 50 to 64 years old, while his support among younger voters (18 to 34) is 40 percent.
Economy, immigration and abortion lead all Florida voter concerns. Florida voters identify the economy (38 percent) as the most important issue, followed by immigration (18 percent) and abortion (16 percent).
Party affiliation made a major difference as to the ranking of the issues. Economy (51 percent) is the most important issue followed by immigration (28 percent) among the voters who intend to vote for the Republican party. In contrast, abortion (32 percent) is the most important issue followed by the economy (21 percent) among the voters who intend to vote for the Democratic party. Undecided voters chose economy (43 percent) as the most important issue followed by immigration (10 percent).
Cable news sources remain a popular source of political news with 40 percent of voters ranking this as their primary source for information. However, the poll also showed a continued reliance on online media as a major source of political information for voters, with 13 percent of respondents indicating they turn to social feeds, while 19 percent said they turned to other blogs and websites for political news.
“Political communication remains heavily influenced by the internet and digital media,” said Robert E. Gutsche, Jr., Ph.D., associate professor in FAU’s School of Communication and Multimedia Studies and editor of “The Future of the Presidency, Journalism and Democracy: After Trump.” “The problem remains, however, in understanding just how deeply voters rely on their politically affiliated messages and their true impacts on the legitimacy of journalism from more traditional outlets.”
The poll margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points at the 95-percent confidence level. Margins of error are higher in each subsample. The survey was administered using automated telephone interviews (Smart IVR).