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Press Release for Monday, July 11, 2016

Duval County Likely Voters Poll Shows Mixed Feelings About Pension Tax, Confidence in Local Leadership

Media Contact: Andrea Mestdagh, Specialist

Department of Public Relations

(904) 620-2192

                    

Methodology Results Contact: Dr. Michael Binder

Public Opinion Research Lab Director

(904) 620-2784




 

Jacksonville, Fla. – A new poll of likely voters in Duval County by the Public Opinion Research Laboratory (PORL) at the University of North Florida shows that support for the pension tax plan is not universal. Support for Mayor Lenny Curry’s pension tax is a mixed bag, with 41 percent of respondents who strongly or somewhat approve, 33 percent who strongly or somewhat oppose and 26 percent who still don’t know. Support and opposition for the pension tax is relatively uniform across party affiliations.


“Mayor Curry still has some work to do garnering votes for the pension tax, but there is reason for optimism since support outweighs opposition by 8 percentage points,” said Dr. Michael Binder, PORL faculty director.

Regarding job approval of local leadership, Curry fared well with 69 percent of likely voters who strongly or somewhat approve of his performance as mayor. Not surprisingly, more Republicans than Democrats approve of Curry, but the vast majority of respondents approve of Curry regardless of party affiliation.


“The mayor is enjoying extremely high levels of job approval through the first year of his term. It will be interesting to see if Curry can parlay his political capital into a passing vote on the pension tax ballot measure,” said Binder.


Mike Williams also has widespread approval with 72 percent of respondents who strongly or somewhat approve of his job as Jacksonville’s Sheriff.


“Like Mayor Curry, Williams has strong support among whites and Republicans, but the majority of blacks and Democrats also approve of how he is handling his duties,” noted Binder.


The Jacksonville City Council and the Superintendent of Duval County Schools, Nikolai Vitti, garnered the approval (strongly or somewhat) of about half of the sample, whereas roughly 30 percent disapprove of the job they are doing and 20 percent don’t know.


Clerk of Court incumbent Ronnie Fussell will be on the ballot in November after gaining notoriety last year for cancelling all Duval County courthouse wedding ceremonies when same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide. Currently, 39 percent of Duval County likely voters strongly or somewhat approve of Fussell’s performance on the job, 10 percent somewhat or strongly disapprove, while more than half of respondents, 51 percent, are unsure.


“Though Fussell won’t be on the ballot in August, he will be in November and his current level of job approval bodes well for him,” said Binder.


When asked about the most important problem facing Jacksonville, 38 percent said it’s crime, 16 percent think it is the economy/jobs and 15 percent selected education. Further analysis shows differences between races, with more than half, 54 percent, of black likely voters who think crime is the most important problem compared with 34 percent of white likely voters; and only two percent of black likely voters perceive the public pension problem as the most important in contrast to 18 percent of white likely voters.


“Similar to our spring 2015 Jax Speaks survey of Duval likely voters, crime is the most important problem facing Jacksonville,” said Binder. “The 20-point difference between white and black likely voters is striking, as is the discrepancy between white and black opinion on the importance of the pension problem. Perhaps that points to the racial differences in levels of support for the proposition, if the black community doesn’t think the pension debt is a big problem, then it makes sense they would be less likely to support a tax to pay for it.”


In the wake of the Orlando massacre, support for a Human Rights Ordinance in Duval County runs high. The majority of likely voters support expanding the HRO to include anti-discrimination protection on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations. However, this support varies widely across party lines, with more than 70 percent of Democrats and those with other party affiliations who support the HRO compared with only 38 percent of Republicans.


“The PORL has been running surveys on the HRO for several years, this is the first time that Republicans have had a net negative for the HRO,” noted Binder. “I can only surmise that the bathroom debate has eroded support among Republican super voters.”

 


Duval County Likely Voters Survey Results


Do you support or oppose the referendum to be presented to Jacksonville voters in the Aug. 30 primary election that reads: “Permanently closing up to three of the City’s underfunded defined benefit retirement plans, increasing the employee contribution for those plans to a minimum of 10 percent, and ending the Better Jacksonville half-cent sales tax are all required to adopt a half-cent sales tax solely dedicated to reducing the City’s unfunded pension liability. Shall such pension liability sales tax, which ends upon elimination of the unfunded pension liability or in 30 years maximum, be adopted?”

 

Pension Tax 

Likely Voters

Strongly Support

18%

Somewhat Support

23%

Somewhat Oppose

14%

Strongly Oppose

19%

Don’t Know

26%

n=553

 

Pension Tax and Party Affiliation 

Likely Republican Voters

Likely Democrat Voters

Likely NPA/Other Voters

Strongly/Support

43%

39%

36%

Strongly/Somewhat Oppose

31%

34%

45%

Don’t Know

26%

27%

19%

n=553

Pension Tax and Race

Likely White Voters

Likely Black Voters

Likely Other Race Voters

Strongly/Support

44%

35%

27%

Strongly/Somewhat Oppose

32%

34%

50%

Don’t Know

25%

31%

23%

n=553

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Lenny Curry is handling his job as Mayor of Jacksonville?


Curry Job Approval 

Likely Voters

Strongly Approve

30%

Somewhat Approve

39%

Somewhat Disapprove

10%

Strongly Disapprove

7%

Don’t Know

15%

n=572

Curry Job Approval and Party Affiliation 

Likely Republican Voters

Likely Democrat Voters

Likely NPA/Other Voters

Strongly/Support

81%

52%

50%

Strongly/Somewhat Oppose

6%

32%

26%

Don’t Know

13%

16%

24%

n=572

Curry Job Approval and Race 

Likely White Voters

Likely Black Voters

Likely Other Race Voters

Strongly/Support

72%

61%

42%

Strongly/Somewhat Oppose

14%

23%

35%

Don’t Know

14%

17%

23%

n=572

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Mike Williams is handling his job as Jacksonville’s Sheriff?

 

Williams Job Approval

Likely Voters

Strongly Approve

35%

Somewhat Approve

37%

Somewhat Disapprove

8%

Strongly Disapprove

5%

Don’t Know

14%

n=578

 

Williams Job Approval and Party Affiliation

Likely Republican Voters

Likely Democrat Voters

Likely NPA/Other Voters

Strongly/Support

83%

61%

47%

Strongly/Somewhat Oppose

7%

22%

25%

Don’t Know

11%

17%

28%

n=578

 

Williams Job Approval and Race 

Likely White Voters

Likely Black Voters

Likely Other Race Voters

Strongly/Support

78%

60%

42%

Strongly/Somewhat Oppose

9%

27%

27%

Don’t Know

13%

13%

31%

n=578


Do you approve or disapprove of the way the Jacksonville City Council is handling its job?

Jacksonville City Council Job Approval 

Likely Voters

Strongly Approve

7%

Somewhat Approve

41%

Somewhat Disapprove

18%

Strongly Disapprove

14%

Don’t Know

19%

n=570
 
Do you approve or disapprove of the way Nikolai Vitti is handling his job as the Duval County Superintendent of Schools?
 

Vitti Job Approval 

Likely Voters

Strongly Approve

19%

Somewhat Approve

31%

Somewhat Disapprove

15%

Strongly Disapprove

19%

Don’t Know

17%

n=573

 

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Ronnie Fussell is handling his job as Clerk of Courts?

 

 Fussell Job Approval

Likely Voters

Strongly Approve

14%

Somewhat Approve

25%

Somewhat Disapprove

5%

Strongly Disapprove

5%

Don’t Know

51%

n=553

In your opinion, what is the most important problem facing Jacksonville? 
 

Most Important Problem Facing Jacksonville

Likely Voters

Improving the Downtown Area

4%

Education

15%

Improving Transportation and Infrastructure

6%

Crime

38%

Solving the Public Pension Problem

14%

Economy/Jobs

16%

Something Else

4%

Don’t Know

2%

n=596

 

Do you support or oppose the City of Jacksonville expanding the city’s human-rights ordinance to include anti-discrimination protection on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations?

 

HRO

Likely Voters

Strongly Support

38%

Somewhat Support

18%

Somewhat Oppose

11%

Strongly Oppose

26%

Don’t Know

8%

n=554

 

HRO and Party Affiliation

Likely Republican Voters

Likely Democrat Voters

Likely NPA/Other Voters

Strongly/Support

38%

77%

70%

Strongly/Somewhat Oppose

51%

17%

30%

Don’t Know

11%

5%

-

n=554

HRO and Race

 

Duval County Likely White Voters

Duval County Likely Black Voters

Duval County Likely Other Race Voters

Strongly/Support

50%

67%

73%

Strongly/Somewhat Oppose

41%

26%

19%

Don’t Know

9%

7%

8%

n=554

 

Methodology

The Duval County poll was conducted, Tuesday June 28, through Thursday June 30, by telephone. Samples were created through voter files provided by Duval County’s Supervisor of Elections and selected through the use of randomization among likely voters. Calls were conducted only in English, with 596 registered likely voters, 18 years of age or older. Likely voters were considered people who had voted in either four out of the last five statewide elections (presidential preference primary in 2016, statewide primary elections in 2012 and 2014 and general elections in 2012 and 2014). Voters who voted in at least the 2014 statewide primary election and newly registered voters that voted in the 2016 presidential preference primary were also included as likely voters. In addition to be considered a likely voter, respondent indicated that they would “Definitely Vote” or “Probably Vote” in August’s primary election.


The margin of error is +/- 4 percent. The breakdown of completed responses on a landline phone to a cell phone was 39 to 59 percent with two percent unknown. The sample had quota for partisan registration and geography by Congressional District and was weighted to race and gender statistics for the likely voter profile of the county. This survey was sponsored by the PORL at the University of North Florida and is directed by associate professor of Political Science Dr. Michael Binder. 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 and a charter member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research Transparency Initiative. For more information about methodology, contact Binder at porl@unf.edu or at (904) 620-2784. PDF version website: https://www.unf.edu/coas/porl/


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.

 

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