UNF poll finds Jacksonville City Council candidates Howland and Polson tied

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – A new poll released Thursday by the Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida reveals new data on registered voters, and the results show the two candidates for City Council At Large Group 3 sitting neck and neck in the race.

Specifically, Tracye Polson received 50.3% of the support from likely voters, compared to Nick Howland, who received 49.7%.

“It looks like we’re dealing with another incredibly close race for city council,” Dr. Michael Binder, PORL faculty director and UNF professor of political science, said in a prepared statement. “Voter turnout is going to be the deciding factor here and predicting that can be tricky, especially in a special election runoff. People with voting histories in these types of elections lean more towards Howland, so Polson will have to make up for that with new voters in the coming days.

Respondents were also asked about Jacksonville’s mayoral and sheriff’s races, and potential candidates were included in the list of responses if they publicly announced their candidacy or expressed an interest in running.

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In the mayoral race, the poll found Democrat Donna Deegan had the most support, with 41% of respondents saying they would vote for her. Daniel Davis got 20% of the vote, while another 20% went to someone else.

Asked about the sheriff’s race, Democrat Lakesha Burton got 39% of voter support, followed by Republican TK Waters, who got 27%. Matthew Nemeth, also a Republican, got 15%.

“Since Matt Carlucci dropped out of the mayoral race, what was once an even split has turned into a wide lead for Donna Deegan,” Binder added in the press release. “The sheriff’s race is a little closer, but people are clearly excited about Lakesha Burton, the first black woman to run for sheriff of Jacksonville. Both are very partisan races and it should be noted that this survey is for registered voters – older voters and Republicans are much more likely to run in these elections.

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Another topic – the drawing of city council district maps. Respondents were asked whether they thought elected council officials should draw new maps or that the maps should be drawn by an independent panel of equal numbers of Republicans or Democrats.

The majority – 85% – chose the independent panel. The remaining 15% said the city council.

In the poll, Mayor Lenny Curry received a 47% approval rating from voters, with 45% disapproving and 7% saying they don’t know. Sheriff Mike Williams had a rating of 51% approving, 36% disapproving and 13% don’t know.

The Jacksonville City Council had only 31% of respondents strongly approving of either. Among the voters, 57% day they disapprove and 12% do not know.

The survey asked voters about curbside recycling pickup in Duval County before it was announced it would return in April. The majority – 83% – said it was important and 63% said it was very important.

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As is typical of the poll, respondents were asked what they thought was the most important issue facing Jacksonville. The most common answer was crime (35%), followed by improving the city center (16%) and improving transportation and infrastructure (10%). COVID-19 garnered just 3% of the vote, down from 22% in June 2020.

Here’s a preview of the full press release:

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