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UNF Poll: Voters Uncertain, Undecided As Jacksonville Election Looms

A new poll from the Public Opinion Research Laboratory at the University of North Florida reveals registered voters on the First Coast are indecisive as the March election draws near.

The poll, which interviewed likely voters in Duval County, revealed Alvin Brown is leading the mayor’s race with 37 percent; Lenny Curry: 25 percent; Bill Bishop: 11 percent; Omega Allen: 2 percent; and 25 percent don’t know or refused to answer. 

With early voting starting in five days, a quarter of the electorate is unsure whom they are voting for in this election. Such high levels of uncertainty provide opportunities for each of the candidates to increase their vote share. 

Brown’s job approval rating is 55 percent, typically a good sign for incumbents. However, that isn’t translating into votes for the mayor. Of the 546 likely voters polled, 44 percent think Brown is a strong leader and 41 percent don’t think he is a strong leader, with 15 percent unsure or unwilling to answer. 

Continuing the trend of uncertainty with the electorate, 23 percent think Curry is a strong leader, and 15 percent don’t think he is strong leader, while a whopping 62 percent don’t know or refused to answer.

When asked if Brown cares about “people like you,” 63 percent of likely voters think he does, while 22 percent don’t.

When asked about Curry caring about people like them, 36 percent believe he does, and 15 percent don’t. However, 49 percent don’t know or refused to answer.

When respondents were asked to place Brown, Curry and Bishop on a five-point ideological spectrum, the results further highlight the awareness gap between the incumbent and the challengers. Forty-three percent of respondents classified Brown as liberal, while only 14 percent didn’t know or refused to place him on the five-point scale.

Conversely, 38 percent of respondents considered Curry conservative, but 49 percent of likely voters were unable or unwilling to place him on the ideological scale.

A plurality of voters who were able to place Bishop on the ideological scale—13 percent—considered him a moderate or middle of the road, but 66 percent didn’t know or refused to place him ideologically.

The large numbers of likely voters who are unfamiliar enough about the two main challengers to even have opinions on their ideological positions highlights the lack of awareness about the election among the most likely voters. In the sheriff’s race, voters are no more decided. The UNF poll shows Ken Jefferson is leading the pack with 24 percent; Mike Williams: 16 percent; Jimmy Holderfield: 10 percent; Jay Farhat: 7 percent; Tony Cummings: 4 percent; Rob Schoonover: 4 percent; Lonnie McDonald: 2 percent; and 34 percent didn’t know or refused to answer.

With seven candidates and such a large percentage of undecided voters, this race is completely up in the air.

The Public Opinion Research Laboratory at UNF conducted the survey.

Approximately 120 UNF students participated in the data collection. A polling sample of randomly selected likely voters was drawn from the Duval County Supervisor of Elections voter file.

Likely voters are classified as voters who cast a ballot in three of the four previous general elections (2011 first election, 2011 general election, 2012 general election and 2014 general election) or, for more recently registered voters, if they have voted in all eligible general elections (both 2012 and 2014, or only 2014 if they were registered to vote after the 2012 general election).

The survey was conducted Monday, Feb. 23, through Friday, Feb. 27, and includes 546 adult registered likely voters in Duval County with a margin of error of +/-4 percent.

Race, gender and party registration were weighted to reflect an electorate that is similar to what turned out in March 2011. Partisan registration is roughly equal, and African-American voters represent approximately 28 percent of the electorate. 


Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP