By Jim Ellis
Aug. 25, 2016 — The St. Leo University Polling Institute dropped a shock poll on the Donald Trump campaign a couple days ago, but the numbers appear inconsistent when comparing other available data.
The Florida poll finds Trump trailing Hillary Clinton by a whopping 52-38 percent margin when counting those individuals leaning to both candidates. Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson receives eight percent, and the Green Party’s Jill Stein attracts just over two percent support. Without leaners, Clinton’s margin is 48-34-6-2 percent consecutively over Trump, Johnson, and Stein. But, these numbers are far from what other pollsters are finding within the Sunshine State.
The St. Leo survey (Aug. 14-18; 1,500 Florida adults, 1,380 likely Florida voters), conducted online “ … uses cutting-edge online methodology … [that draws a] sample from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups.” The quoted passage comes from the institute’s official methodology explanation. St. Leo is a 16,000-plus student Catholic liberal arts university located 35 miles northeast of Tampa that was originally established in 1889, and re-established in 1959. Their Polling Institute was initiated in December of 2013.
In addition to the St. Leo findings, six surveys from a like number of pollsters have been released in August. Monmouth University, CBS News/YouGov, Fox 13 News/Opinion Savvy, NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist College, Quinnipiac University, and Suffolk University all put forth data, and while Clinton led in all surveys, the margin between she and Trump averaged just four points. The range spans from a Clinton/Trump tie (Quinnipiac University) all the way to Clinton +9 (Monmouth University).
On the other hand, the same St. Leo polling sample finds Sen. Marco Rubio (R) jumping out to his largest lead since changing his mind about seeking re-election. Accordingly, the senator leads presumed Democratic nominee Patrick Murphy, the 18th District congressman, 46-38 percent. If Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Orlando) were to score an upset win in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary, Rubio would blast him 47-34 percent in the general election.
The Senate findings give credence to St. Leo’s presidential data because it is difficult to argue that the sample is slanted heavily against Republicans when they arguably have produced Sen. Rubio’s strongest overall showing.
As we have repeatedly stated in presidential analysis, Florida is the most important swing state on the Republican map. There is virtually no realistic mathematical calculation where a Republican wins the presidency without carrying Florida. Therefore, the Trump campaign will have to thoroughly examine this and other data in order to correct their standing and make a full force run for the state.
From the Clinton perspective, we can expect to see her campaign continue to heavily emphasize the state. Knowing that she can virtually win the election by keeping her key state coalition intact and then taking swing Florida, this locale will likely become the focal point of the campaign’s remaining days.
The August Florida polls are referenced below. Candidates appear in the order of Clinton, Trump, Johnson, and Stein in every instance:
• Monmouth University (Aug. 12-15; 402 likely Florida voters) – 48-39-6-1%
• CBS News/YouGov (Aug. 10-12; 1,194 likely Florida voters) – 45-40-5-2%
• Fox 13/Opinion Savvy (Aug. 10; 622 likely Florida voters) – 45-44-6-1%
• NBC News/WSJ/Marist (Aug. 4-10; 862 registered Florida voters) – 41-36-9-4%
• Quinnipiac University (July 30-8/7; 1,056 likely Florida voters) – 43-43-7-3%
• Suffolk University (Aug. 1-3; 500 likely Florida voters) – 43-39-4-3%