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Press Release for Thursday, November 7, 2019

New UNF Poll Reveals Bipartisan Opposition Over Sale of JEA

Media Contact: Amanda Ennis

Public Relations Acting Director

(904) 620-2192

                    

Methodology Results Contact: Dr. Michael Binder

Public Opinion Research Lab Director

(904) 620-2784

 


New UNF Poll Reveals Bipartisan Opposition Over Sale of JEA

Vast Majority Believe a Publicly Owned JEA Benefits Jacksonville

 

The Public Opinion Research Lab (PORL) at the University of North Florida released a new poll comprised of registered voters in Duval County that reveals 59% oppose the sale of JEA in general, with 26% supporting. This opposition holds across party lines, as 58% of Democrats and 63% of Republicans oppose the sale of JEA.

 

Respondents were also asked about the sale of specific portions of JEA. Opposition is at 60% for the selling the electric portion of JEA, 61% for the water portion and 59% for the sewer portion. A large majority of 73% believe that a publicly owned JEA benefits the city. Just 16% did not believe there was a benefit for the city, while 12% didn't know.

 

Regarding the recent "Invitation to Bid" process initiated by JEA that requires a minimum bid of $3 billion, respondents were asked what minimum price they would accept in order to support selling JEA. A majority, 51%, did not know what minimum price they would be willing to sell JEA for. A total of 14% are willing to sell at $3 billion, while an additional 9% would be willing to sell up to $10 billion, and another 5% would require more than $10 billion to sell. However, 22% volunteered that they would not be willing to sell JEA at any price. Ultimately, the sale of JEA must be put before the voters of Jacksonville prior to the sale being finalized. When asked when the election should be held to vote on the sale of JEA, 39% indicated a special election should be held as soon as the decision to sell has been made, while 55% said the vote should be held in the November 2020 general election.

 

"There is a strong base of opposition to the sale of JEA among voters of all parties here in Jacksonville," said Dr. Michael Binder, faculty director of the PORL at UNF. "However, without a concrete proposal in place yet it is difficult to infer how opinion might change when a proposal is finally put forward. There is so much uncertainty at this point around the price point of the sale, I could envision an active campaign offering $1,000 or more in rebates shifting opinion quite dramatically."

 

When asked about job approval for Aaron Zahn, JEA's current CEO, 33% approve and 47% disapprove, while 21% didn't know. Jason Gabriel, the General Counsel for the City of Jacksonville, has 27% job approval with 15% disapproving and 58% not knowing. Regarding The Florida Times-Union, 44% approve of the way that they report on issues concerning local government, while 26% disapprove and 31% say they didn't know. Nate Monroe, a columnist for The Florida Times-Union, has 28% job approval and 12% disapproval, with 61% not knowing.

 

"Of all the public figures polled in this survey, Aaron Zahn is the only one with a net negative job approval," Binder noted. "Clearly, the Invitation to Negotiate and potential sale spearheaded by Zahn has impacted the public's view of his job performance."

 

Additionally, respondents were asked about the Jacksonville Jaguars. The field dates of the survey spanned a period of time prior to and after the Jaguars game in London. Before Sunday's game, when asked whether or not Gardner Minshew, the rookie Jacksonville Jaguars' quarterback, should remain the starting quarterback when Nick Foles returns from injured reserve, 47% of respondents indicated that he should, while only 20% stated the Nick Foles should return to the position. However, after Sunday's game, support shifted with 36% wanting Foles to return and 35% preferring to keep Minshew as the starter. Regarding Shad Khan, 65% approve of the way that he is handling his job as the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, with 10% disapproving. Similarly, 54% approve of the job that Doug Marrone is doing, with 18% disapproving.

 

"Shad Khan's approval is the highest of all the people we polled on. Coming off the Jalen Ramsey trade his net positive is 55 points, 13 points higher than the last time we polled in 2017. Marrone's net positive is 36 points, nearly identical to 2017," Binder said. "Minshew's support dropped dramatically after the Houston game, and the recent announcement that Foles will be under center against the Colts puts this mini quarterback controversy to bed."

 

For details about the methodology of the survey and additional crosstabs by partisanship, age, race, sex and education, visit the PORL website.

 

Survey Results

This past year, officials have discussed the possibility of selling JEA (the city's community owned utility company).

 

In general, do you support or oppose the city selling all of JEA?

Answer Options Jacksonville Voters n=655
Strongly Support 14%
Somewhat Support 12%
Somewhat Oppose 13%
Strongly Oppose 46%
Don't Know 15%

 

Answer Options Democratic Voters n=272 Republican Voters n=232 NPA Voters n=151
Strongly Support 15% 11% 18%
Somewhat Support 11% 13% 9%
Somewhat Oppose 11% 15% 15%
Strongly Oppose 47% 48% 41%
Don't Know 15% 13% 17%

 

In general, do you support or oppose the city selling the electric portion of JEA?

Answer Options Jacksonville Voters n=654
Strongly Support 14%
Somewhat Support 12%
Somewhat Oppose 14%
Strongly Oppose 46%
Don't Know 14%

 

In general, do you support or oppose the city selling the water portion of JEA?

Answer Options Jacksonville Voters n=654
Strongly Support 12%
Somewhat Support 12%
Somewhat Oppose 14%
Strongly Oppose 47%
Don't Know 15%

 

In general, do you support or oppose the city selling the sewer portion of JEA?

Answer Options Jacksonville Voters n=652
Strongly Support 12%
Somewhat Support 14%
Somewhat Oppose 13%
Strongly Oppose 46%
Don't Know 16%

 

Do you believe that a publicly owned JEA benefits the city?

Answer Options Jacksonville Voters n=662
Yes 73%
No 16%
Don't Know 12%

 

The "Invitation to Negotiate" bidding process initiated by JEA requires a minimum bid of at least $3 billion from parties interested in the purchase of JEA. If JEA were to sell, what is the minimum price in billions of dollars that you would accept in order to support the sale of JEA?

Answer Options Jacksonville Voters n=181
Wouldn't Support Selling for Any Price 22%
Less Than $3 Billion 4%
$3 Billion 10%
$4-5 billion 4%
$6-10 billion 5%
Over $10 billion 5%
Don't Know 51%

 

The ultimate sale of JEA must be put before the voters of Jacksonville prior to being finalized. Do you believe the City of Jacksonville should hold a special election as soon as the decision to sell has been made, or wait until the November 2020 General election?

Answer Options Jacksonville Voters n=659
Special Election 39%
November 2020 General Election 55%
Don't Know 6%

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Aaron Zahn is handling his job as the CEO of JEA (the city's community owned utility company)?

Answer Options Jacksonville Voters n=651
Strongly Approve 13%
Somewhat Approve 20%
Somewhat Disapprove 15%
Strongly Disapprove 32%
Don't Know 21%

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Jason Gabriel is handling his job as the General Counsel of the City of Jacksonville?

Answer Options Jacksonville Voters n=644
Strongly Approve 7%
Somewhat Approve 20%
Somewhat Disapprove 8%
Strongly Disapprove 7%
Don't Know 58%

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that the Jacksonville Times-Union reports on issues concerning local government?

Answer Options Jacksonville Voters n=650
Strongly Approve 18%
Somewhat Approve 26%
Somewhat Disapprove 14%
Strongly Disapprove 12%
Don't Know 31%

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Nate Monroe is handling his job as a Jacksonville Times-Union columnist?

Answer Options Jacksonville Voters n=643
Strongly Approve 12%
Somewhat Approve 16%
Somewhat Disapprove 7%
Strongly Disapprove 5%
Don't Know 61%

 

When Nick Foles returns from injured reserve, should he be the starting quarterback, or should Gardner Minshew remain the starting quarterback?

Answer Options Jacksonville Voters Pre Houston Game n=460 Jacksonville Voters Post Houston Game n=205
Nick Foles 20% 36%
Gardner Minshew 47% 35%
Don't Know 33% 29%

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Shad Khan is handling his job as the Owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars?

Answer Options Jacksonville Voters n=646
Strongly Approve 44%
Somewhat Approve 21%
Somewhat Disapprove 4%
Strongly Disapprove 6%
Don't Know 24%

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Doug Marrone is handling his job as the Head Coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars?

Answer Options Jacksonville Voters n=642
Strongly Approve 26%
Somewhat Approve 28%
Somewhat Disapprove 7%
Strongly Disapprove 11%
Don't Know 28%

 

Survey Demographics

Telephone Jacksonville Voters n=665
Landline 17%
Cell phone 84%

 

What is the highest grade in school or year of college you have completed?

Education Jacksonville Voters n=660
Less than high school 4%
High school graduate 24%
Some college 44%
College graduate 19%
Post graduate degree 9%

 

Methodology

The UNF Jax Speaks Poll was conducted and sponsored by the Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida, from Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019, through Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, by live callers via the telephone; calls were made from 4 to 9 p.m. daily, with a maximum of five callbacks attempted. Interviews were conducted in English by UNF undergraduate students and employees. Data collection took place at the PORL facility with its 27-station Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) system. The phone numbers used for this survey were sourced from the Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, update of the Florida Voter File. The sample frame was comprised of registered Florida voters who reside in Jacksonville. Overall, there were 665 completed surveys of Florida registered voters, 18 years of age or older.

 

The margin of sampling error for the total sample is +/- 3.8 percentage points. The breakdown of completed responses on a landline phone to a cell phone was 17% to 84%. Through hand dialing, an interviewer upon reaching the individual as specified in the voter file asked that respondent to participate, regardless of landline telephone or cell phone. Data were then weighted by partisan registration, age, race, sex and education. Education weights were created from the 2017 American Community Survey (ACS). Partisan registration, sex, race and age weights were created from the Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, update of the Florida Voter File to match the active registered voters in Florida. These demographic characteristics were pulled from the voter file list.

 

All weighted demographic variables were applied using the SPSS version 25 rake weighting function, which won't assign a weight if one of the demographics being weighted on is missing. In this case, respondents missing a response for education were given a weight of 1. There were no statistical adjustments made due to design effects. This study had a 14.4% response rate. The American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) Response Rate 3 (RR3) calculation was used which consists of an estimate of what proportion of cases of unknown eligibility are truly eligible. This survey was sponsored by the UNF PORL and directed by Dr. Michael Binder, UNF associate 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 Transparency Initiative and a member of the Association of Academic Survey Research Organization. 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 Binder at porl@unf.edu or at (904) 620-2784.

 

UNF is a nationally ranked university in Jacksonville, Florida, that is nestled on a beautiful 1,300-acre nature preserve, featuring six colleges of distinction as well as nationally recognized flagship programs, with 56 bachelor degree programs and over 75 areas of concentration.

 

-UNF-