GOP-skewed poll suggests Miami-Dade voters oppose $2.5B bond plan after learning of tax effect
Image via AP.

AP Election Miami-Dade
Less than a third of respondents said they agreed with the plan. Ten percent were uncertain.

Miami-Dade voters aren’t as keen on Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava’s $2.5 billion borrowing plan as a past survey suggested, a new GOP-skewed poll of likely August Primary voters shows.

Seventy-nine percent of respondents — including 83% of Republicans, 52% of independents and 24% of Democrats — said they disapproved of the Mayor’s proposed bond issue after being told the plan would affect property taxes, as most bonds do.

Less than a third said they agreed with the plan. Ten percent were uncertain.

Miami-based consulting firm Dark Horse Strategies, which is working on Republican Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid’s campaign to unseat Levine Cava, a Democrat, surveyed 715 county voters by phone and email March 10-13. The poll had a 95% confidence factor and a 4-percentage-point margin of error, the firm said.

But notably, 46% of those polled self-identified as Republicans, who constitute less than a third of Miami-Dade’s registered voters.

In addition to the bond question, whose answers clash with responses to a November survey by EMC Research that did not mention a property tax hike, the Dark Horse poll posed three other queries.

One question related to the bond issue: whether voters approved of using a “sizeable portion” of Miami-Dade’s budget to build affordable housing.

Forty-four percent of county voters supported the propriety, including 78% of Democrats, 35% of Republicans and 43% of independents.

As of March 1, the most recent date for which county voter data are available, Miami-Dade had 512,843 registered Democratic voters representing 35.5% of the county’s total voter rolls. There were 439,256 registered Republicans (30%), 464,066 voters with no party affiliation (32%) and 26,545 voters who belonged to a third party (2%).

Asked whether they support a proposed westward extension of State Road 836 known as the Kendall Parkway — a long-delayed project that would cost an estimated $1 billion — 58% of respondents said yes. That includes 63% of Republicans, 56% of Democrats and 53% of independents.

Levine Cava and other leaders, including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, have opposed expanding the toll road, arguing it could damage the Everglades while minimally reducing commute times.

Dark Horse Strategies pollsters also asked Miami-Dade voters what issue they believe the county should make its top priority. Perhaps due to recency bias, 36% of respondents said lowering property taxes was top-of-mind, followed by improving traffic infrastructure (25%) and affordable housing (11%).

While 38% of Republicans and 31% of independents agreed on prioritizing property tax cuts, only 22% of Democrats felt the same way. More of them (28%) valued improvements to traffic infrastructure more.

Data from the Dark Horse Strategies poll this month. Image via Dark Horse Strategies.

The EMC Research poll from November, which Levine Cava’s campaign shared with Florida Politics two months later, found that 79% of 500 likely Primary voters supported her “305 Future Ready” bond plan for affordable housing, parks enhancements, resiliency, land conservation and infrastructure upgrades.

Levine Cava, a Democrat, announced the plan in January during her annual “State of the County” address, which may explain the delay between when EMC conducted the poll and when the figures were released.

Cid, a Republican, has seized on the issue as pivotal to the mayoral race and is running campaign ads lambasting Levine Cava’s bond plan as “brazen.” Her campaign fired back on the criticism last month, noting that Levine has cut property tax rates and that Cid himself pushed for raising taxes to cover Miami Lakes borrowing plans that voters ultimately tanked.

Levine Cava in January touted that Miami-Dade’s current property tax rate is at a 40-year low. Despite that, county voters are still paying more due to inflation.

Meanwhile, Cid is running on a record of overseeing a more than 9% tax rollback in Miami Lakes last year, which city officials approved in order to pass on earnings from new property revenues to residents.

“We have all these new developments and value coming into our community. It’s time we help our residents, especially in an era when they’re paying high inflation and insurance costs,” he told Florida Politics last year. “The Miami Lakes model really bodes well for all of Miami-Dade.”

Four others are running in the technically nonpartisan contest for Mayor. Two are Republican: social media influencer Alex Otaola and actor Carlos Garín, who previously mounted unsuccessful bids for Congress and the Miami-Dade Commission.

Miguel “el Skipper” Quintero, a trapeze artist who received numerous citations for code violations at his home-based circus business, is the only other Democrat in the race.

Eddy Rojas, a cargo and transportation executive with no party affiliation, is also running.

Levine Cava, the first woman and Jewish person to serve as Miami-Dade Mayor, entered 2024 in a strong position to defend her job. She raised more than $3 million last year. She retained $2.3 million as of New Year’s Day.

Cid ended 2023 with $221,000 in campaign cash. Otaola had about $142,000. Quintero had less than $2,500.

Garín and Rojas filed to run at the end of January and reported no campaign finance activity yet.

All candidates for Mayor are competing against one another in the Aug. 20 Primary Election.

If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the two top vote-earners will face off in a runoff culminating in the Nov. 5 General Election.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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