UNF Poll: Over half of Duval County voters oppose removing Confederate statues

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A new political poll based on registered voters in Duval County finds high approval ratings for both Mayor Lenny Curry and Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, while over half of voters oppose removing Confederate statues or monuments from public spaces.

Approximately 53 percent of the 509 registered voters who were polled by UNF’s Public Opinion Research Laboratory said they either somewhat or strongly oppose the removal of Confederate statues from public places. Roughly 38 percent of voters said they support the removal of such statues and 7 percent had no opinion or are unsure.

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An opposing opinion on the divisive issue was seen more cohesively amongst registered Republicans at 83 percent, while only 56 percent of registered Democrats in Duval County supported the removal of Confederate monuments.

Furthermore, no party affiliation (NPA) voters were split evenly on the issue, with approximately 44 percent opposing the removal of Confederate statutes and 43 percent in support of it.

The issue had a similar response along racial lines, as a majority of those who were registered as African American or Black were in support of removing Confederate statues and a majority of those registered as White or Not Hispanic were opposed to the idea.

Sixty-two percent of registered black voters are in support of removing Confederate statues, 24 percent are against it and 11 percent say they are unsure.

Sixty-eight percent of registered white voters are opposed to removing Confederate statutes from public spaces, 27 percent support it and 4 percent say they are undecided.

Hispanic voters, however, were split evenly down the middle on the issue.

“With these sizable partisan and racial differences on this issue, I just hope that emotions stay in check and ultimately, we come to a resolution that everybody can live with,” said Dr. Michael Binder, PORL faculty director.

A majority of registered voters on both sides of the aisle either strongly approve or somewhat approve of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry’s job performance. Sixty-nine percent of voters said they approve of the way that Curry is handling his job as mayor, while approximately 13 percent said they either somewhat disapprove or strongly disapprove.

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Based on the 2016 Jax Speaks Poll, Curry’s job approval rating has predominately remained the same throughout his tenure. The percentage of registered voters who disapprove of his job performance, however, has decreased from 17 percent in 2016 to 13 percent in 2017.

Curry’s job performance was perceived most negatively amongst 23 percent of registered black voters, followed by approximately 23 percent of registered Democrats.

A strong approval for Jacksonville City Council was also found among registered voters in Duval County, according to the new poll. Approximately 60 percent of voters either somewhat or strongly approve of the council’s ability to handle its job, while 26 percent disapprove. Approximately 23 percent, however, had no opinion or were unsure.

Despite a mostly quiet entrance into city politics, approximately 29 percent of registered voters in Duval County approve of Council President Anna Brosche’s job performance thus far, while 19 percent disapprove. However, an astounding 50 percent of voters said they are unsure of how she is handling her new job, according to the poll.

“All of Duval’s political leaders have extremely high job approval numbers,” Binder said. “Contrast this level of satisfaction with what’s happening in Washington right now, and downtown looks like a political paradise.”

Rivaling Curry’s strong approval rating, approximately 67 percent of registered voters approve of the job Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams has been doing. Williams’ approval rating, however, has dropped from the 72 percent he received in 2016, according to the poll.

Williams’ positive approval rating fell mostly along party lines, with Democrats approving his overall job performance slightly more than that of Curry’s. Williams’ job performance was viewed most negatively amongst 34 percent of black registered voters and most positively by 82 percent of registered Republicans.

The new poll from the University of North Florida indicates that registered voters in Duval County for a third year in a row have elected crime as the most important problem facing Jacksonville. Education and improving transportation and infrastructure, respectively, were two other problems voters expressed significant concern over.

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Women are more likely than men to believe crime is the most important problem that needs to be solved in Jacksonville, according to the poll. Fifty percent of the females who were polled chose crime, whereas only 28 percent of men in the sample felt the same. Education ranked second in importance for both sexes.

In regards to the issue of homelessness in Jacksonville, approximately 65 percent of registered voters in Duval County feel the city is doing too little to help, while 21 percent feel the city is doing about the right amount.

Approximately 38 percent of registered voters believe the city should prioritize the downtown areas of the Landing and Bay Street for development and improvement, while 22 percent believe that resources should be directed elsewhere. And a majority of those in the sample currently find downtown unappealing to the younger crowd.

Fifty-two percent of registered voters find downtown Jacksonville at least somewhat unappealing to young adults, according to the poll, while approximately 36 percent find it somewhat appealing.

The UNF PORL Jax Speaks Poll was conducted between Monday, Oct. 2 and Wednesday, Oct. 4 via telephone in English and Spanish. A total of 512 surveys were completed but only 509 answered the demographic questions needed for weighting. The margin of error for the PORL poll was plus or minus 4.3 percent.

Follow Jordan Ferrell on Twitter at @J_E_Ferrell.