Our final poll before next Tuesday’s mayoral election primary in St. Petersburg includes both good news and bad news for incumbent Rick Kriseman.
Kriseman, a Democrat first elected in 2013, is running against five other candidates, including Republican Rick Baker, a former mayor.
The good news is that, for the first time since St. Pete Polls began tracking this race, Kriseman is above 40 percent.
The bad news? Kriseman is only at 40 percent and still trails Baker by seven points.
Baker leads Kriseman 47 to 40 percent with 6 percent of voters saying they are unsure about whom they will support. None of the four tomato cans in the race — Anthony Cates, Paul Congemi, Theresa “Momma Tee” Lassiter, and Jesse Nevel — register above 2 percent.
This poll mirrors results from a survey conducted two weeks ago that showed Baker leading Kriseman 46 to 39 percent.
A whopping 1,524 voters were surveyed for this survey. Only those respondents who said they had already voted or planned to vote were included. More than half of respondents (52 percent) said they have already voted.
One of the reasons Kriseman is trailing Baker is that, despite the current mayor’s efforts to inject national, partisan politics into a local race, just 57 percent of Democrats support the candidate who describes himself as a “proud Democrat.”
Kriseman and Baker are essentially splitting the all-important black vote (40 to 39 percent) although 11 percent of black voters are unsure whom they’ll back. (Believe it or not, this number has to be disappointing to Baker, who previously told me he expected to win at least 60 percent of the black vote; he’s popular in Midtown, but he’s not Charlie Crist popular.)
Older voters tend to favor Baker, while the young cohort supports Kriseman. The mayor is winning in west St. Pete, as well as downtown, while Baker has a stranglehold on vote-rich northeast St. Pete.
As has been discussed several times on this site, the only real drama Tuesday will be whether Baker wins the race outright by capturing 50 percent of the vote.
While it would be easy to suggest Baker could do this by simply splitting the remaining undecided voters, it’s probably even easier than that. Many of the voters who say they are truly undecided will probably end up not voting, while the four also-ran candidate will likely underperform their already miniscule numbers. This means the voter pie is actually smaller than is reflected in this poll, which, if accurate, means Baker could already be at 53-54 percent.