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Florida polls: UNF poll finds Biden up 6 against Trump, USA Today poll finds a tie

Andrew Pantazi
Florida Times-Union
President Donald Trump's supporters remain committed, though former Vice President Joe Biden leads in several polls.

With one month until Election Day, a pair of Florida polls showed conflicting results, with one giving Joe Biden a six-point edge over President Trump and another showing a tie.

The University of North Florida's Public Opinion Research Lab poll found 51 percent of likely voters supporting Biden compared to 45 percent who said they support Trump.

Meanwhile, a Suffolk University/USA Today found the candidates split at 45 percent support each.

The two polls come just a day after Biden campaigned in South Florida with a Monday town hall.

Both polls showed Biden struggling with Hispanic voters as compared to Hillary Clinton's dominant performance in 2016, yet he appears to make up for it in the polls with his better performance among independent voters and older voters.

In the Suffolk poll, 46 percent of Hispanic voters supported Biden and 42 percent support Trump. In the UNF poll, 54 percent of Hispanic voters supported and 39 percent supported Trump.

Suffolk University has an A rating from FiveThirtyEight's analysis of pollsters, and the University of North Florida has an A/B rating.

The two polls, however, used very different methods. Suffolk relied on the 2010 U.S. Census to get a representative demographic, while UNF used the 2019 Census Bureau American Community Survey.

Suffolk divided Florida into four general regions, while UNF divided Florida into its 10 media markets plus Miami-Dade as a separate area.

Suffolk used random-digit dialing, while UNF's poll was online.

While the majority of Suffolk's interviews came after Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis became public, UNF's poll was mostly conducted before the diagnosis.

The UNF poll ran from Thursday through Saturday, capturing voters' sentiments following last week's debates. Michael Binder, director of UNF's polling lab, said the majority of responses came before Trump's announcement of his positive COVID diagnosis early Friday.

Binder said he doesn't think Biden's lead will hold. "I don’t think Biden’s going to win by six points," he said. About one in four voters said the debate influenced their vote, and Binder thinks some of the responses might be a post-debate bounce.

"We have four weeks of Lord knows what’s going to happen," Binder said. "I really think Florida’s going to be very tight. … [In Florida], a two-point election is a landslide."

The UNF poll was an online survey of 3,142 registered likely voters, 81 percent of whom voted in the 2018 elections. The results were weighted by education, age, sex, race, geography and party.

Floridians care less about the public-health impact of COVID-19 than they did in the. In an April UNF poll, 2/3 of voters said they cared more about the public-health impacts than the economic impacts; now, 57 percent said the same.

UNF's poll captured a divided Florida with vastly different worldviews between Republican and Democratic voters.

  • While 98 percent of Democrats and 85 percent of independent voters said they believe face masks slow the spread of COVID-19, 63 percent of Republicans said the same.
  • While 76 percent of Republicans said police treat Black and white people equally, eight percent of Democrats and 41 percent of independent voters said the same.
  • While 84 percent of Republicans said Florida is easing COVID restrictions too slowly or at about the right speed, 88 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of independents said Florida is moving too quickly.
  • While 93 percent of Republicans said Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat should be filled before the next inauguration, five percent of Democrats and 43 percent of independents said the same.

There were some areas of broad agreement. On immigration, 79 percent of voters want undocumented immigrants to have the chance to become U.S. citizens, including 62 percent of Republicans and 93 percent of Democrats.

Among Florida's elected officials, Rick Scott is viewed worse than Donald Trump who is viewed worse than Marco Rubio who is viewed worse than Ron DeSantis, and all of them were viewed more unfavorably than favorably.

The generational gaps that widened in 2016 and 2018 with young voters tilting left and older voters tilting right have shrunk somewhat. 

Voters 65 and older in the UNF poll favored Trump by a three-point margin. The youngest Baby Boomers, between the ages of 55 and 64, were stronger Trump supporters, giving him a 17-point lead. Older Gen-X voters, who are between 45 and 54, support Biden by a one-point margin.

Younger Millennials also support Biden less than Gen-Z voters and older Millennials. Voters 24 and younger gave Biden a 46-point advantage, and voters 35 to 44 gave him a 25-point advantage. But the voters in between, who are 25 to 34, gave him a tighter 11-point margin.

The poll also looked at six ballot initiatives that would amend the state constitution. To pass, each need to gain at least 60 percent support.

An effort to raise the minimum wage gradually to $15 an hour had exactly 60 percent support, with Democrats overwhelmingly supporting it, Republicans opposing it and independents giving it 60 percent support.

An initiative that would replace partisan primaries with a top-two open jungle primary leading to a runoff in the general election, similar to Jacksonville's unitary elections, has 58 percent support, with independent voters giving it 72 percent support, Democrats giving it 60 percent and Republicans giving it 48 percent support.

Those polled also overwhelmingly supported two efforts to reduce property taxes, one by extending a limit on how much a property's taxable value can rise and another by exempting property taxes for spouses of veterans with combat-related disabilities. A proposed constitutional ban on local and state elections allowing non-citizens to vote also looks certain to pass, even though no elections in Florida currently allow it.

An effort to make amending the constitution harder has limited support. While Black and Hispanic voters slightly favor the initiative, Republicans, Democrats and independents all opposed it. Overall, just 41 percent of voters said they'd vote to approve the amendment.