“Razor-thin” race for mayor ahead of Thursday debate, UNF poll finds

Carter Mudgett, Editor in Chief

Democrat Donna Deegan will face off with Republican Daniel Davis during a debate for Jacksonville’s next mayor on Thursday; a race Deegan is leading by one percentage point, according to a new poll by the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab. 

For the poll, registered voters in Duval County who are likely to vote in the upcoming May 16 election were asked their vote choices for Jacksonville mayor between April 10 and 11. 

Of the 650 voters, 48% said they would vote for Deegan and 47% said they would vote for Davis, leaving 5% undecided.

“We’re looking at another razor-thin race that will undoubtedly come down to turnout,” said Dr. Michael Binder, PORL faculty director, UNF professor of political science and UNF’s faculty association president. 

“Both candidates will have a chance to address the issues important to voters in Thursday’s 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,” Binder said. 

Moderated by Action News Jax anchors, the debate will be held in UNF’s Lazzara Performance Hall at 7 p.m. on Thursday. The event will be televised by CBS47 and FOX30, and Spinnaker reporters will be in attendance. 

The University of North Florida will host a mayoral debate between Democrat Donna Deegan and Republican Daniel Davis at the Lazzara Performance Hall on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Donna Deegan campaign, courtesy of Daniel Davis campaign. Background photo courtesy of Justin Nedrow/Spinnaker).

Respondents were also asked what they think is the biggest problem facing the city. By far, the most popular response was crime with 47% of respondents indicating so. 

In a distant second place, 8% of respondents thought housing costs are the most important issue, followed by education with 7%. 

“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,” said Binder. “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.” 

Deegan and Davis came out with the most votes after the first election on March 21 but neither garnered enough to win. Deegan held a strong 18% over her six opponents at the time, according to a PORL poll before the first election. 

They are headed for a runoff election on May 16. 

Voters polled by PORL were also asked to submit open-ended questions for Thursday’s debate at UNF. To submit your own questions, visit the form here.


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