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November's UNF Public Opinion Research Lab poll

The Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida (PORL) collaborated with The Tributary in a new poll of Jacksonville registered voters about their views on news media outlets. When asked how much they trust the information from national news organizations, just 60% of respondents said they trust them either “a lot,” or “some,” while 40% said “not too much” or “not at all.” When asked the same question about local news organizations, however, 75% of respondents reported some measure of trust, with just 24% indicating they do not trust the information provided.

There is a wide partisan gap in trust in both local and national news outlets, with Democrats nearly 30 percentage points more trusting than Republicans of the information from local news organizations. This divide is even greater in national news, with trust among Democrats 55 percentage points higher than that of Republicans.  

“While these trends aren’t new, sadly they have been exacerbated in the past couple of years,” commented Dr. Michael Binder, PORL faculty director. “The fourth estate is a vital component to a functioning democracy,” he added, “I just hope these partisan splits begin to shrink in the future.”

When asked their perceptions about the financial state of local news media outlets, 67% of respondents said they think local news outlets are doing either “very well,” or “somewhat well.” They were then asked whether, in the past year, they had paid or given money to a local news organization, to which 81% said they had not. When asked why they hadn’t contributed, the most common response (41%) said they can find plenty of free local news, so they don’t need to pay. Of the 19% who have contributed in the past year, 45% said funding good journalism was the main reason for their decision.

Binder noted, “while those numbers may seem discouraging for local news organizations, it makes sense since most people think local news organizations are doing at least somewhat well financially.”

When asked which news media outlets respondents rely upon most often, News4Jax had the highest response with 37%, with First Coast News in second place at 14%. They are followed by The Florida Times-Union (12%), WJCT (11%), and Action News (10%).

“Jacksonville has a variety of local news options, and our residents are diverse in their consumption habits,” said Binder. “The more local news options the better. Whether it’s television in the early morning, radio on the way home from work or news alerts on our phones throughout the day – the more access we have to local information, the better suited we are to navigate society.”

Respondents were then asked how well they think local news media outlets do in several different areas. Areas in which respondents think news outlets are doing well are reporting news accurately (58%) and providing news that they use daily (55%). Respondents believe outlets are not doing well holding leaders accountable (61%), dealing fairly with all sides (53%), covering news thoroughly (52%), being transparent about reporting (52%), or including people like them in stories (51%).

In addition to questions about local news media outlets, respondents were also asked a series of questions regarding local and state policy issues. First, respondents were asked about the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office budget. For half of the respondents, the question was worded using the exact figure of $525 million, while the other half was worded, “half a billion dollars.” The two samples were nearly identical in their responses, with 35% of respondents indicating the JSO budget is too much, 16-17% saying it is not enough, 31-32% saying the budget is about right, and 18% with no opinion.

“You’re never going to have unanimity of support for budgeting issues, and policing issues have deep political divisions,” Binder commented. “But the partisan splits are extreme – Democrats are about 40 percentage points more likely than Republicans to think JSO’s budget is too much.”

When asked about state congressional redistricting, both Republicans and Democrats indicated that the most important factor is that districts reflect existing neighborhoods and communities. Also with strong bipartisan support, the majority (70%) of respondents said that an independent panel should draw new congressional district maps, rather than the Florida Legislature (13%); 17% had no opinion.

“Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of bipartisan support for an independent panel drawing the lines for elected officials,” Binder commented. “Unfortunately for voters, the Florida legislature (and our local city council) have all opted to keep control of the decennial redistricting process.”

Finally, respondents were asked their opinions about the recently passed Texas abortion law. Again, this question had two different versions. Half of respondents received the wording “bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy,” while the other half received “bans abortions six weeks after a woman's last period.” When asked whether they would support or oppose a similar bill in Florida, the majority (64-67%) said they would oppose such a bill, with just 26-27% saying they would support one.

“With the Supreme Court taking up Texas’s abortion law and Tallahassee kicking around further restrictions on abortions in Florida, Duval voters are overwhelmingly opposed to the Texas style law,” said Binder. “interestingly, even 31% of Republican are opposed to this law, a fact that elected officials in Tallahassee might want to pay attention to.”


The UNF JaxSpeaks October Poll was conducted by the Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida and sponsored by The Tributary: A Northeast Florida Journalism Collective, from Tuesday, Oct. 19, through Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. The survey was administered through email via Qualtrics, an online survey platform. The email addresses used for this survey were sourced from public records, which were then compiled into a useable sample frame by PORL. The sample frame was comprised of 27,448 registered Duval County voters in Florida, 18 years of age or older. The number of completed surveys was 806. This study had a 3% response rate.

The study has an overall credibility interval of +/- 3.5 percentage points. Credibility interval is used in place of margin of sampling error in this study due to the use of a non-probability sampling frame, in this case, an opt-in online panel. 

Data was weighted by partisan registration, age, race and sex; these weights were created from the September update of the Florida voter file to match the active registered voters in Duval County. These demographic characteristics were pulled from the voter file list. 

All weighted demographic variables were applied using the SPSS version 26 rake weighting function. There were no statistical adjustments made due to design effects. This survey was directed by Dr. Michael Binder, UNF professor of political science.

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, a charter member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) Transparency Initiative and a member of the Association of Academic Survey Research Organizations (AASRO). As members of AAPOR, the PORL’s goal is to support sound and ethical practices in the conduct of survey and public opinion research. For more information about methodology, contact Dr. Michael Binder at or at (904) 620-2784.