UNF poll shows Obama, Romney tie

Other local, state issues cited in recent survey

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A new University of North Florida poll reveals a tie in a voting match-up between presidential candidates President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

The "Jacksonville Speaks" poll, which also includes several local issues, shows Jacksonville voters support the continuation of the St. Johns River Ferry and have a high approval rating of Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

The survey was conducted through the use of computer-assisted telephone interviewing at a 27-station polling laboratory at UNF. A sample of the polling universe was selected through the use of Random digit dialing methodology.

"[The poll] is a volunteer effort by students," Dr. Michael Binder, the faculty member at UNF who worked with the students on the poll. "It introduces them to the survey process and it introduces them to sampling behind the scenes of the numbers."

An additional cell phone sample is used to increase representation as well as an overlay sample. Age is weighted to statistics from the Supervisor of Elections for Duval County registered voters.

Among the national/state findings were the following:

  • In a match-up between Obama and Romney, each candidate receives 43 percent in the poll results. Obama is beating Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum 48 to 39 percent, respectively, in a potential match-up.
  • President Obama has a 48 percent approval rating in Jacksonville, up from 41 percent in March.
  • More than 69 percent of respondents said the economy/jobs was the most important issue facing the nation today.
  • Gov. Rick Scott has a 48 percent approval rating in Jacksonville, up from 41 percent in March.
  • U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson leads congressman Connie Mack in a hypothetical race for senator 34 percent to 32 percent, respectively, with the rest undecided or choosing someone else.
  • Nelson has a strong lead of about 25 percent among other potential Republican candidates, including George LeMieux and Mike McCalister.
  • Only 33 percent of registered Jacksonville voters support the Tea Party political movement and only 24 percent of respondents support the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Among local findings were the following:

  • Mayor Alvin Brown has an approval rating of 75 percent, up from 63 percent in November.
  • The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office has an approval rating of 72 percent.
  • Registered voters have a 78 percent job approval rating of new Jaguars owner Khan.
  • Seventy-seven percent of respondents support the continuation of the St. Johns River Ferry but don't have a clear preference on how to pay for it.
  • When asked if registered voters are "fearful" of becoming a crime victim, 49 percent responded that they were, while 50 percent are not fearful of becoming a victim of crime.

Binder said he and his students were surprised at many of the survey results. He said it's great to see that JSO gets a high approval rating.

"That's a good thing for the city," he said.

He said the fact that Mayor Brown's approval rating shot up by 12 percentage points since November is "astonishing."

"Two things are working for the mayor," Binder said. "First, he has his democratic base and they still like him and are pleased, and he's doing some things Republicans like."

Binder said Brown's campaign promises to cut spending in the city budget gained him favor with Republicans, however he's interested to see how the mayor stacks up when his term expires.

"Saying you're going to cut is one thing, picking out projects that are going to get cut and get it past city council, get it done politically, get it implemented, we'll see what happens three years from now when he's up for reelection," Binder said.

As for the Jacksonville Jaguars' new owner, respondents couldn't be much happier.

"We love our Jags and anything that can keep them here longer is a good thing," Binder said. "Shahid Khan is a very personable guy, not an owner who sits back and doesn't do anything. He's out there putting a new face on the franchise and he does it in a positive way."

The survey was conducted between March 27 and April 3 and includes 746 Duval County registered voters. Margin of error for the entire sample is +/- 3.59 percent. About 180 UNF political science students participated in the data collection. Binder said as long as the university system provides them with funding, they will continue the survey.

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