Deegan holds 1-point lead over Davis in latest UNF mayoral poll

The survey also shows Republicans leading in the Duval County Property Appraiser and City Council At-Large races on the May 16 ballot.

Donna Deegan and Daniel Davis will face off for Jacksonville mayor in a May 16 runoff.
Donna Deegan and Daniel Davis will face off for Jacksonville mayor in a May 16 runoff.
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One month before the runoff election for Jacksonville mayor, Democrat Donna Deegan holds a one-point lead over Republican Daniel Davis in the latest poll by the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab.

The poll released April 17 shows Deegan with 48% support among registered Duval County voters surveyed who are likely to vote in the May 16 election to 47% supporting Davis.

It shows 5% are undecided.

The poll has a +/- 3.8 percentage point margin of error. 

Deegan is the founder of The Donna Foundation nonprofit and a former First Coast News anchor. 

Davis is president and CEO of JAX Chamber.

UNF professor Michael Binder, the faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Lab, said in a news release that the “extremely tight race” could come down to voter turnout.

“We’re looking at another razor-thin race that will undoubtedly come down to turnout,” Binder said. 

“Both candidates will have a chance to address the issues important to voters in Thursday’s (April 20) debate on UNF’s campus, and it’ll be important for each of them to energize their bases to get to the polls in May.”

Deegan finished first and Davis finished second in a field of seven candidates in the March 21 unitary election with Deegan securing 39.43% of the vote to Davis’s 24.72%. 

Because no candidate gained 50% of the vote plus one. the race is headed to a runoff.

The poll’s sample of 650 registered likely voters shows 7% of Republican respondents said they are supporting Deegan to 3% of Democrats backing Davis. Deegan also shows a 53% majority support from no-party-affiliated voters in the poll to 42% for Davis.

Other races

The poll showed Republicans leading in two other countywide races.

In the race for Duval County Property Appraiser, Republican and former Florida State. Rep. Jason Fischer leads Democrat and current City Council member Joyce Morgan 47% to 45%. In that race, 9% of respondents said they didn’t know or refused to answer.

Republican Chris Miller polled at 45% to Democrat Charles Garrison at 38% in the vacant City Council At-Large Group 5 seat, with 17% saying they don’t know who they will support or refused to answer.

 “The Republican candidates are ahead in the Property Appraiser and Council Group 5 elections, (Fischer) by two points and Miller by seven,” Binder said. 

“But it’s important to note there is still a significant portion of likely voters who aren’t sure who they’ll vote for in these races, and they have the potential to shake things up,” he said.

Key issues

Poll respondents were asked what they think is the biggest problem facing Jacksonville and 47% indicated crime. 

That was followed by 8% who responded that housing costs are the city’s biggest problem.

Other answers in the respondents’ top five issues included education at 7%, improving transportation and infrastructure with 6%, and the economy/jobs at 4%. The polling results show 7% didn’t know.

“We decided to ask this question a little differently than we usually do by leaving it open-ended for the respondent to answer freely without being read any answer choices,” Binder said. 

“Crime has been at the top of the list for a while, but this really drives home how big an issue this is for Jacksonville voters.”

Debate looming

Respondents also had an opportunity to submit a question for Deegan and Davis to answer at a scheduled April 20 televised debate co-hosted by UNF and CBS 47 and Fox 30 Action News Jax.

The poll was conducted April 10-11. A voter was considered “likely” if they voted in the 2023 Duval County First Unitary Election on March 21 or previous off-cycle elections since 2019, the news release said.

Respondents who indicated they would definitely not vote or probably not vote in the upcoming election were screened out of the survey, as well as those who said they don’t know if they will vote or refused to answer if they would vote in May.

Voters who refused to answer all three of the vote choice questions were also screened out.



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