A new survey shows Duval residents’ support for the pension tax referendum and for expansion of the Human Rights Ordinance.
The University of North Florida poll showed 36 percent support among 380 Duval County residents interviewed for the pension tax proposal, with 24 percent against it and 40 percent with no opinion.
Though support for the measure outweighs opposition, a plurality of Duval County residents’ opinions are still unformed, a condition which leads UNF’s release to describe the public mood as “limited support with a great deal of uncertainty about the upcoming ballot measure.”
The strongest support for the referendum proposal was among Republicans: 42 percent support the pension tax, 20 percent oppose. However, even among Democrats, there is a plurality of support for the ballot item. 33 percent of Democrats favor the referendum, and 25 percent oppose it, with the remaining 42 percent undecided.
Mayor Lenny Curry “has some work to do in order to convince voters that the sales tax extension is the right thing to do to try and solve our pension problems,” said UNF Public Opinion Research Lab faculty director Dr. Michael Binder. “There is an opportunity for him [Curry] — 40 percent of the sample did not have an opinion about the upcoming pension ballot measure.”
Helping Curry “convince voters” will be a couple of prominent Jacksonville political figures who are serving as co-chairs of the Yes for Jacksonville political committee.
Susie Wiles, co-chair of the Donald Trump campaign in Florida and a fixture at City Hall for decades, and former Sheriff Nat Glover, an African-American Democrat and who is President of Edward Waters College, will be actively messaging on this issue in the months ahead.
“Curry and his pension plan supporters seem to be getting the word out to Republicans, as they are more supportive at this early stage,” Binder added. “But the extremely high levels of uncertainty highlight the opportunity that the mayor has to make his case to voters during the next few months.”
UNF polls have shown strong support for the expansion of the Human Rights Ordinance historically, and the latest is no exception.
Sixty-four percent of residents support HRO expansion on the grounds of “sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.” Twenty-six percent oppose it.
The release described support for HRO expansion as “overwhelming” in Duval County. HRO expansion supporters have noted that for the first time, the UNF poll question on this topic included gender identity and expression.
Those are both necessary components for an expanded HRO, advocates claim.
“Human rights have been a hot-button political issue in Jacksonville since the city council failed to pass an HRO almost four years ago,” said Binder. “This data show that our residents continue to be supportive of a fully inclusive HRO. Democrats, Independents and Republicans are all in favor of the city adopting these protections. Perhaps the city council’s constituents are more supportive of the HRO than they know.”
Support runs up to a high of 71 percent among Democrats, to a low of 48 percent among Republicans. These numbers, it must be stressed, do not jibe with those of internal polls conducted by Republican groups locally. Those surveys, which canvass likely voters instead of residents, are seen by the consultant class as truer snapshots of the mood of the electorate.
Unlike in the case of the pension tax referendum issue, Curry will not be assembling a bipartisan PAC to sell the merits of a fully inclusive HRO. The Jacksonville mayor has not budged from his position that HRO expansion would not be “prudent.”
The margin of error is 5 percent on this poll of Duval County residents.
“I want to emphasize that this is not a likely voter survey for the August statewide primary,” said Binder. “This survey is made up of county residents and gives us an idea about where they stand on two very important issues.”
“The Public Opinion Research Lab will be coming out with a series of comprehensive surveys in early July — after the official qualifying period closes. We will be polling the Democratic Primary in Congressional District 5, Republican Primary in Congressional District 4, the pension ballot measure in Duval and a series of other political issues in Jacksonville,” Binder adds.
Consider this poll an appetizer for the main course to come.