Democratic mayoral challenger Frank Melton was leading in a poll taken days after he and Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. faced off in a debate earlier this month.
The results show Melton has 48 percent of the vote while Johnson takes 35 percent, according to the Mason Dixon Polling & Research commissioned by WAPT-Channel 16. Sixteen percent of those polled were undecided. The poll, taken of 500 Jackson likely voters on April 21 and April 22, has a margin of error of 4.5 percent.
Melton and Johnson, along with challenger Annell Smith, will meet Tuesday in the primary. The winner will take on Republican Rick Whitlow in the June 7 general election.
Darrell Dobson, president of the Jackson Association of Neighborhoods, said he believes the race is actually much closer than the poll shows.
“I would put the two neck-and-neck right now,” said Dobson, a Ward 6 resident. “Maybe I’d even put Johnson a point or two ahead.”
The poll shows Johnson surging far ahead with black voters in a city with 71 percent African Americans based on the 2000 U.S. Census. The poll showed Johnson capturing 47 percent of the black vote to Melton’s 35 percent.
“The black vote is actually higher,” Melton said Tuesday night. “When you’re taking only 500 respondents and missing a lot of our supporters, it’s going to be conservative.”