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Poll: Lenny Curry’s pension tax still headed for a win, although support has fallen off some

Mayor Lenny Curry has said he is willing to invest all of his “political capital” into getting a “Yes” vote on the pension tax referendum. And he might have to do just that.

A University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab poll reveals support for Jacksonville’s pension tax referendum is not as strong as it was in May.

“Support for … Curry’s pension tax is a mixed bag, with 41 percent of respondents who strongly or somewhat approve, 33 percent who strongly or somewhat oppose and 26 percent who still do not know. Support and opposition for the pension tax is relatively uniform across party affiliations,” asserted Michael Binder of the UNF PORL.

The 8 percent spread between approval and disapproval is down four points from UNF’s previous poll on the subject.

The May 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.

The pollsters described the condition then as “limited support with a great deal of uncertainty about the upcoming ballot measure.”

One positive is there is more support than opposition in the survey across broad demographics, including Republicans, Democrats, blacks, and whites.

However, there is not overwhelming support in any demographic sector. Among black voters, the pension tax has 35 percent support and 34 percent opposition. Among Republicans, it has a plus 12, with 43 percent support and 31 percent opposition. But among NPA voters, the pension tax is underwater; 45 percent in opposition, 36 percent in support.

One expects that uncertainty possibly be to put to rest when the “Yes for Jacksonville” political committee starts spending the over $900,000 it had on hand as of the last campaign finance report, through June 24.

Binder’s take?

“It’s going to be interesting. He hasn’t made his full-on effort yet.”

Then, unprompted, Binder offered this potentially ominous statement.

“I’m not sure if they picked the right election,” said the UNF polling head of the Aug. 30 referendum for the pension tax.

***

The pension tax may face challenges, meanwhile, but the mayor and the sheriff are popular nonetheless.

Meanwhile, claims the UNF group, 69 percent of likely voters strongly or somewhat approve of Curry’s performance as mayor, with stronger support among Republicans than Democrats.

This is in line with early-term support for his predecessor: Alvin Brown was at 72 percent by this metric as late as 2013.

“The mayor is enjoying extremely high levels of job approval through the first year of his term. It will be interesting to see if Curry can parlay his political capital into a passing vote on the pension tax ballot measure,” said Binder.

Sheriff Mike Williams is even better off, with 72 percent approval. Williams’ political capital, however, currently is being most used on ads for State Attorney Angela Corey, who was running 10 points behind challenger Melissa Nelson in a UNF poll last week.

Other Jacksonville leaders get reasonably high marks from poll respondents, the Public Opinion Research Lab asserts:

The Jacksonville City Council and the Superintendent of Duval County Schools, Nikolai Vitti, garnered the approval (strongly or somewhat) of about half of the sample, whereas roughly 30 percent disapprove of the job they are doing and 20 percent do not know.

Clerk of Court incumbent Ronnie Fussell will be on the ballot in November after gaining notoriety last year for canceling all Duval County courthouse wedding ceremonies when same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide. Currently, 39 percent of Duval County likely voters strongly or somewhat approve of Fussell’s performance on the job, 10 percent somewhat strongly disapprove, while more than half of respondents (51 percent) are unsure.

***

Meanwhile, it appears Republicans, who had (anomalously, say many observers) polled positively on a fully inclusive Human Rights Ordinance previously, have turned against it.

A total of 51 percent of Republicans oppose HRO expansion, according to the poll; 38 percent now support it, suggesting that a Republican incumbent may hazard a re-election challenge from the right if he or she supports HRO expansion.

“The PORL has been running surveys on the HRO for several years, this is the first time that Republicans have had a net negative for the HRO,” said Binder. “I can only surmise that the bathroom debate has eroded support among Republican super voters.”

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This was a phone poll of 596 likely voters, with 59 percent of responses from cell phones. Of those polled, 55 percent were Republicans, 40 percent Democrats, and 5 percent NPA or other parties.

The poll was conducted June 28 through June 30. When asked about the lag between polling and publication, Binder noted there likely wouldn’t have been change in the intervening time, as there “hasn’t been any real push from the mayor’s office yet” related to the pension tax push.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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