As RNC prepares for Jacksonville, voters prepare for coronavirus and social unrest

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Donald Trump at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. Win McNamee / Getty Images

MIAMI – Jacksonville voters do not want the Republican National Committee convention to come to town, and most express concern that the event may spread the coronavirus.

A University of North Florida poll found that 58 percent of Jacksonville’s surveyed voters opposed the RNC convention, and 42 percent supported it. Seventy-one percent said they were concerned that the coronavirus would spread due to the convention, and 65 percent said they were concerned about “social unrest,” the survey showed.


When broken down by party, the poll showed that 81 percent of Republicans were in favor of hosting the main events of the convention in Jacksonville. About nine out of 10 Democrats opposed it, as did 62 percent of independents.

“National nomination conventions are polarizing events and, unsurprisingly, the levels of support for Jacksonville that the RNC hosts vary dramatically by partisanship,” said Michael Binder, director of the university’s Public Opinion Research Laboratory based in Jacksonville, in a written statement. “In the context of a global pandemic that seems to have reached Florida most fervently, opposition to this event being organized locally seems much more concerning.”

The RNC said this month it would move its main convention events, including President Donald Trump’s acceptance speech, to Jacksonville after the party clashed with officials in North Carolina, where the event would take place in August.

Jacksonville, a Republican-trending city that essentially encompasses all of Duval County, offered to host the event.

That decision has impacted the favorability of Mayor Lenny Curry, a Republican who has earned high marks for leading the northeast Florida city bipartisan, as his coronavirus burden remained relatively low compared to South Florida.

The UNF poll showed that 45 percent of voters approve of Curry’s job performance and 49 percent disapprove of it, giving him a net negative approval rating. Curry scored a net positive 9-point job approval rating in a UNF survey in June.

Jacksonville voters surveyed gave Governor Ron DeSantis, President Donald Trump’s top ally in the state, a job approval rating of 48 percent and a disapproval rating of 50 percent.

Trump fared worse among respondents, with a disapproval rating of 61 percent.

Trump, who led Duval County by 1.4 percentage points in 2018, followed his Democratic opponent Joe Biden by 7 points in the UNF poll.

Duval County has had a blue trend, like many urban areas in the US. USA, and DeSantis lost it by 4.3 percentage points in 2018.

The UNF surveyed 2,524 registered voters of Duval County by email between June 17 and 22. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.95 percent.