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Poll: Duval school tax poised to pass, despite soft support from Republicans and younger voters

Democrats want the tax, but is anyone else sold?

Duval County leaders across the political spectrum support a 1/2 cent sales surtax to pay for school infrastructure, but Democrats are more enthusiastic than Republicans, and older voters like the idea better than younger ones.

Those are among the findings in polling released by St. Pete Polls, which surveyed likely Duval County voters on the proposition and found 57% of respondents in favor of the initiative, with 31% opposed.

While it appears the referendum is on track to receive the support needed to pass, reasons for concern exist.

For one, the tax pitch is polling much more strongly among Democrats than Republicans or independent voters.

Among the Democrats surveyed, 69% support the proposition, with 19% opposed, and the remainder on the fence.

Members of the GOP, however, are not so enthusiastic. Though the referendum is still above water with them, the sale has not been fully made.

Just 46% of the Republicans surveyed back the November referendum, with 43% opposed and the remainder undecided.

Meanwhile, though the proposition is above the 50% mark with independent voters, they look more like Republicans than Democrats on this issue.

Of the NPAs polled, 52% support the proposed tax, while 36% do not. The remainder have yet to decide.

Though there is not a demographic that appears expressly opposed to the proposition, there is variation among both age and ethnic cohorts.

A total of 55% of White voters and 66% of Black voters are in support. Though the measure is underwater with Asian Americans, with 36% supportive and 40% opposed, that sample included only 25 people.

Evidence of a gender gap on the proposition likewise doesn’t seem to exist. Among both men and women, support is in the mid-50s and opposition in the low-30s.

Interestingly, the proposition polls better with older voters than younger ones.

By far the strongest support for the tax for any given age group is the one that won’t be around to pay it for very long. Among voters 70 and older, the referendum has 68% support.

Meanwhile, voters more likely to have had recent interactions with Duval County Public Schools are less supportive.

Just 48% of voters aged 18 to 29 support the proposition as of last week’s survey, with 32% expressly opposed.

Polling has generally shown a clear path for this concept.

A poll last year from the University of North Florida found the majority of registered Duval County voters (74%) backed a half-cent sales tax for school capital improvements, without a charter carveout.

The tax could raise $1.2 billion over the next 15 years.

The city’s political establishment is fully engaged on this issue, with two political committees messaging independently of each other in support.

The Duval Citizens for Better Schools political committee, chaired by School Board member Warren Jones, raised more than $788,000 through Sept. 18, according to records from the state Division of Elections. Roughly $225,000 remains to be spent.

The Together for All Our Students political committee had roughly $600,000 on hand as of Sept. 18. That committee is affiliated with Mayor Lenny Curry‘s political operation, which came to support the tax proposal only after state law was changed to give charter schools a proportionately equal cut of the proceeds.

The poll has a 3.6% margin of error.

Written By

A.G. 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 AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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