UNF poll finds Deegan leading Jacksonville mayor’s race

The Democratic former First Coast News anchor also leads her closest Republican rivals, but many say they are undecided.

  • By Monty Zickuhr
  • | 5:00 a.m. February 28, 2023
  • | 5 Free Articles Remaining!
Jacksonville mayoral candidate Donna Deegan
Jacksonville mayoral candidate Donna Deegan
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Democrat Donna Deegan holds an 18-point lead over six other candidates in the Jacksonville mayor’s race, according to a University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab poll released Feb. 28.

Deegan, the founder of The Donna Foundation nonprofit and a former First Coast News anchor, was backed by 37% of those asked who they are likely to vote for in the March 21 election.

Trailing Deegan were Republican JAX Chamber President Daniel Davis at 20%; Republican District 2 City Council member Al Ferraro, 8%; Democratic former state lawmaker Audrey Gibson, 7%; Republican Council member LeAnna Cumber, 5%; Omega Allen, no party affiliation, 1%; and Republican Frank Keasler, 3%,

Of those polled, 22% said they don't know.

In the nonpartisan election, if no candidate gains 50% of the vote plus one in March, the two candidates with the highest totals will face a general election May 16.

“Donna Deegan is the clear frontrunner in a crowded field, that looks poised to go until May,” said Michael Binder, director of the Public Opinion Research Lab, in a news release. 

“That said, 31% of Republican and 24% of Independent voters are still undecided and that means it could still be anyone’s race.”

In a hypothetical head-to-head race against the top three Republican candidates, Deegan leads all three.

Deegan leads Davis, 48% to 39% with 14% saying they don’t know or refused to answer. She leads Ferraro 51% to 35% and Cumber 53% to 30%.

“Again, we’re seeing between 12% and 20% of Republican voters still don’t know who they’d pick, even when choosing between Deegan and the top three Republican candidates,” Binder said. 

“That big block of undecided voters makes this race particularly hard to predict, and they may ultimately decide which two candidates go on to the general election in May.”

Of Republicans polled, 7% said they back Deegan. Of Democrats supporting a Republican, Davis led with 2%.

More races

The poll also asked about the race for Duval County Property Appraiser and the races for City Council At Large groups 1, 2 and 5.

• For property appraiser, Democrat Joyce Morgan leads with 43% over Republicans Jason Fischer, 16%, and Danny Becton, 13%. Of those polled, 28% said they don’t know.

• In City Council At Large Group 1, Republican Terrance Freeman leads with 40%. Libertarian Eric Parker is at 24% and 32% said they don’t know.

• In City Council At Large Group 2, Republican Ron Salem leads with 41%. Democrat Joshua Hicks is 40% and 18% don’t know.

• In City Council At Large Group 5, Democrat Charles Garrison leads a field of six candidates at 16%. Following are Republican Chris Miller, 14%; Democrat Nahshon Nicks, 14%; Republican Reginald K. Blount, 9%; and Libertarian Jerry “Tub” Rorabaugh, 4%.

Of those polled, 38% said they don’t know or refused to answer.

The poll of 593 registered, likely Duval County voters was conducted via phone Feb. 20-24. The polling group comprised 292 Democrats, 239 Republicans and 62 nonparty or other. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4.0 percentage points.



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