For the first time since St. Pete Polls started tracking the ‘battle of the Ricks,’ current Mayor Rick Kriseman is leading former Mayor Rick Baker in one of its public polls, albeit by less than one percentage point.
According to a survey conducted Thursday, Kriseman is at 46.8 percent; Baker is at 46.0 percent, with 7.2 percent undecided.
The poll asked 635 registered St. Pete voters their intentions next month in the city’s municipal elections. While nearly two-thirds of respondents say they plan to cast ballots, 35 percent reported they already voted. Of those already voted, almost 51 percent went for Kriseman, with 46 percent for Baker. Just under 3 percent said they were unsure.
For those yet to cast a ballot, Baker holds a slight edge, with 45.5 percent saying they will vote for the former mayor; Kriseman is less than a point behind (44.8 percent). Nearly 10 percent remain unsure.
Geographically, the polling found Kriseman performs best in the city’s west (49.8 percent, nearly 6 points ahead of Baker), south (50.8, 11 points ahead) and downtown (53.3, 20 points ahead) regions; Baker does well in Midtown (47.5, nearly 7 points over Kriseman) and Northeast (53.3, an 11 point advantage).
This latest poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percent, with a 95 percent confidence level.
Compared it to the St. Pete Polls survey Oct. 3 that put Baker and Kriseman at a statistical tie. Baker, the popular former two-term mayor, received 46.0 percent while incumbent Kriseman took 45.3 percent. About nine percent of voters were unsure.
That poll showed Kriseman with a solid advantage in the black vote, 46 to 38 percent. It was a contrast to before the primary, where Kriseman regularly trailed Baker both in general and among black voters, a traditionally Democratic voting bloc.
No doubt helping the Democrat in the lead-up to the primary was a combination of Donald Trump’s remarks about the Charlottesville, Virginia white nationalist rally, Baker’s reticence to say whether he had voted for Trump, and an eleventh-hour Kriseman endorsement by former president Barack Obama.
Along gender lines, the Oct. 3 poll had Kriseman leading Baker among men, a trend reversed in female respondents. While the numbers were not significant — a four/five-point difference in each case — this seems to buck the conventional wisdom where men lean toward a more conservative candidate and women rally closer to a Democrat.
Of course, in the primary, neither Rick received the 50-percent-plus-one needed to win outright, with Kriseman surprisingly besting Baker by a slim 69 vote margin. Both received 48 percent in what was historically considered a nonpartisan race.
Kriseman did well in the younger-skewing Kenwood and Historic Uptown neighborhoods, as well as with the St. Pete LGBTQ community, as well as parts of Old Southeast. Baker took the predominantly African-American Midtown, parts of Child’s Park and did best in the mostly-white corner of northeast St. Pete, Snell Island to Riviera Bay.
Florida Democrats are also energized as of late, both by Kriseman’s come-from-behind primary win and the victory of Annette Taddeo in Senate District 40, previously held by former Republican Sen. Frank Artiles. In SD 40, Taddeo had also lagged behind Republican state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz by about 500 votes as of Election Day.