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Press Release for Wednesday, November 6, 2019

New UNF Poll Shows Overwhelming Support for Half-Cent Sales Tax for Schools

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 Shows Overwhelming Support for Half-Cent Sales Tax for Schools

Overwhelming Majority Support Decriminalization of Recreational Marijuana in Duval

 

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 approximately 74% of Duval County voters support a half-cent sales to upgrade, improve and replace aging schools throughout the school district. Only 20% are against the sales tax, with 4% stating they don’t know. Support was highest among Democrats, while still showing strong support among Republicans, with 78% and 68% respectively. A referendum to vote on this sales tax was withdrawn by the Jacksonville City Council in September, which resulted in the Duval County School Board filing a lawsuit against the City of Jacksonville.

 

“This is the continuation of a trend we’ve seen during polling on this issue several times this year,” said Dr. Michael Binder, faculty director of the PORL at UNF. “Duval registered voters are very supportive of the half-cent sales tax and if given the opportunity to vote, would likely pass this measure easily.”

 

When asked about job approval for the Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools (DCSP), 44% approve of the job Diana Greene is doing as Superintendent, while 28% disapprove. Subsequently, respondents were informed that currently, the Superintendent is a position appointed by the Duval County School Board. When asked if the position should remain appointed, or if the Superintendent should be elected by Duval County voters, the majority stated the position should be elected, at 70%. Conversely, 25% stated the position should continue to be appointed.

 

“Generally speaking, voters are inclined to support opportunities to vote for both issues and candidates,” Binder said. “The superintendent position seems similar, and even though Jacksonville’s City Council was divided on the measure, there appears to be support for turning the DCPS superintendent into an elected position.”

 

Crime remains the most important issue facing Jacksonville according to registered voters for the fifth year in a row, at 44%. Education is a distant second, with 13%, followed by downtown redevelopment at 9%. Mayor Lenny Curry’s job approval is at 47%, with 29% disapproving. Jacksonville City Council received 36% approval and 38% disapproval. A majority of respondents approve of how Mike Williams is handling his job as the Sheriff of Jacksonville, at 54%, while 31% disapprove.

           

“Per the usual here in Jacksonville, crime is the leading concern in the county,” Binder noted. “Both Mayor Curry, who was elected by running on reducing crime, and Sheriff Williams have net positive support – though Williams’ net positive support is 7 points higher.”

 

Respondents were also asked about other potential policy issues for Duval county. Voters are split concerning the ban of single-use plastic straws in restaurants and retailers, with 42% in support of the ban and 47% in opposition. This policy is split along party lines with 49% of Democrats supporting the measure, while only 30% of Republicans are in favor of the ban.  On the other hand, voters strongly support decriminalizing recreational marijuana, with 75% approval. Democrats have higher levels of support, 78%, but a majority of Republicans support decriminalization as well, at 67%.    

 

“Similar to previous polls, marijuana legalization is extremely popular in Duval County,” said Binder. “This issue has not gotten very far in City Council, but it is an issue that resonates with the populace.”

 

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

 

Survey Results 

 

What do you think is the most important problem facing Jacksonville today?

Answer Options

Jacksonville Voters

n=665

Crime

44%

Downtown Redevelopment

9%

Economy/Jobs/Unemployment

8%

Education

13%

Healthcare

4%

Public Transportation

3%

Public Utilities

2%

Tax Burden

2%

The Environment

4%

Something Else

9%

Don’t Know

2%

 

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

Answer Options

Jacksonville Voters

n=649

Strongly Approve

18%

Somewhat Approve

29%

Somewhat Disapprove

13%

Strongly Disapprove

16%

Don’t Know

25%

 

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

Answer Options

Jacksonville Voters

n=652

Strongly Approve

6%

Somewhat Approve

30%

Somewhat Disapprove

21%

Strongly Disapprove

17%

Don’t Know

25%

 

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

Answer Options

Jacksonville Voters

n=647

Strongly Approve

23%

Somewhat Approve

31%

Somewhat Disapprove

13%

Strongly Disapprove

18%

Don’t Know

16%

 

Do you approve or disapprove of the way that Diana Greene is handling her job as the superintendent of Duval County Public Schools?

Answer Options

Jacksonville Voters

n=647

Strongly Approve

19%

Somewhat Approve

25%

Somewhat Disapprove

13%

Strongly Disapprove

15%

Don’t Know

29%

 

How would you vote on a local referendum that reads:

To upgrade aging schools through repairs and modernization, to keep schools safe and to continue to promote a conducive learning environment, to improve technology, and to replace existing or build new schools, shall the Duval County School Board be authorized to levy a 15-year half-cent sales surtax, with expenditures based upon the Surtax Capital Outlay Plan, and monitored by an independent citizens committee?

Answer Options

Jacksonville Voters

n=662

For the Half-Cent Tax

74%

Against the Half-Cent Tax

20%

Would not vote

2%

Don’t Know

4%

 

Answer Options

Democratic Voters

n=275

Republican Voters

n=237

NPA Voters

n=152

For the Half-Cent Tax

78%

68%

78%

Against the Half-Cent Tax

15%

28%

16%

Would not vote

2%

2%

0%

Don’t Know

5%

3%

5%

 

Currently, the Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools is a position appointed by the School Board. Do you believe the position should continue to be appointed, or should the Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools be elected by Duval County voters?

Answer Options

Jacksonville Voters

n=658

Appointed

25%

Elected

70%

Don’t Know

5%

 

Do you support or oppose decriminalizing marijuana in Duval County that would allow for civil citations rather than arrests for adults caught with less than 20 grams of marijuana?

Answer Options

Jacksonville Voters

n=654

Strongly Support

61%

Somewhat Support

14%

Somewhat Oppose

5%

Strongly Oppose

16%

Don’t Know

5%

 

Answer Options

Democratic Voters

n=268

Republican Voters

n=236

NPA Voters

n=151

Strongly Support

66%

47%

72%

Somewhat Support

12%

20%

11%

Somewhat Oppose

5%

6%

1%

Strongly Oppose

14%

23%

11%

Don’t Know

3%

5%

5%

 

 

Do you support or oppose the City of Jacksonville banning restaurants and retailers from distributing single-use plastic straws?

Answer Options

Jacksonville Voters

n=653

Strongly Support

26%

Somewhat Support

16%

Somewhat Oppose

17%

Strongly Oppose

30%

Don’t Know

11%

 

Answer Options

Democratic Voters

n=273

Republican Voters

n=228

NPA Voters

n=150

Strongly Support

31%

18%

30%

Somewhat Support

18%

12%

17%

Somewhat Oppose

17%

20%

12%

Strongly Oppose

22%

43%

27%

Don’t Know

13%

8%

13%

 

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-