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Press Release for Wednesday, July 6, 2016

New Florida Fourth Judicial Circuit Poll Shows Potential for Turnover in State Attorney and Public Defender Offices

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 Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit by the Public Opinion Research Laboratory (PORL) at the University of North Florida shows that Melissa Nelson leads the State Attorney’s race with 34 percent, incumbent Angela Corey has 24 percent and Wes White has eight percent. For the office of Public Defender, Charles Cofer is ahead with 35 percent while incumbent Matt Shirk trails with only 17 percent.


“A well-known incumbent (Angela Corey) trailing by ten points at this stage of the race, suggests that her campaign is in deep trouble,” said Dr. Michael Binder, PORL faculty director. “Perhaps the highly publicized controversies surrounding the state attorney’s office have taken a toll.”


This is a closed Republican primary due to questionable circumstances surrounding a write-in candidacy currently under appeal to the Florida Supreme Court. To estimate the effect of the closed primary election, Democratic and Independent likely voters were also included in the poll to see how they would vote given the opportunity.


“The idea that a tough-on-crime Republican (Angela Corey) is doing relatively better among Democrats and Independents than Republicans is mindboggling. Even though Nelson still leads among these disenfranchised voters, it looks as though the Kenny Leigh shenanigans may have backfired,” said Binder.


Regarding the Public Defender’s race Dr. Binder said, “Matt Shirk, another controversial incumbent who has faced ethics investigations, finds himself in a deep hole leading up to the August election. A 20-point lead, even with so much uncertainty in the electorate, bodes well for challenger Charles Cofer. This could be a clean sweep for the challengers.”


Respondents were asked for whom they would vote if the election for State Attorney were being held today.

 

State Attorney: Closed vs. Open Primary

 

Candidate

Closed Primary Likely Republican Voters n=467 

Open Primary  All Likely Voters n=747 

Likely Democrats and Independent Voters n=280

Angela Corey

24%

23%

21%

Melissa Nelson

34%

31%

27%

Wes White

8%

9%

10%

Don’t Know

35%

37%

42%

Due to rounding totals may not equal 100.
The Fourth Judicial Circuit includes Duval, Nassau and Clay Counties.

 

State Attorney: Fourth Judicial Circuit All Likely Voters, Vote Choice by Race    


 Candidate

White

Black

Angela Corey

21%

32%

Melissa Nelson

34%

23%

Wes White

9%

10%

Don’t Know

36%

35%

Due to rounding totals may not equal 100. n=717

 

Respondents were asked for whom they would vote if the election for Public Defender were being held today.

 

Public Defender: Closed vs. Open Primary 

 

Candidate

Closed Primary

Likely Republican Voters n=464

Open Primary 

All Likely Voters n=745

Likely Democrats and Independent Voters n=281

Matt Shirk

17%

17%

17%

Charles Cofer

35%

34%

32%

Don’t Know

48%

49%

51%

Due to rounding totals may not equal 100. 

 

 

Public Defender: Fourth Judicial Circuit All Likely Voters, Vote Choice by Race

 

Candidate

White

Black

Matt Shirk

16%

23%

Charles Cofer

36%

26%

Don’t Know

48%

51%

Due to rounding totals may not equal 100. n=715 

 

Methodology


The Florida Fourth Judicial Circuit Poll was conducted Monday, June 27, through Thursday, June 30, by telephone. Samples were created through voter files provided by each county’s board of elections and selected through the use of randomization among likely voters. Calls were conducted only in English, with 747 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 were 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 +/- 3.6 percent for the ‘open primary’ version of the survey +/- 4.6 for the ‘closed primary’ version of the survey. The breakdown of completed responses on a landline phone to a cell phone was 47 to 52 percent with 1 percent unknown. The sample had quota for partisanship and geography and was weighted to race and gender statistics for the likely voter profile of the district. 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.

 

-UNF-