Poll: After late start, Traci Koster leads Jessica Harrington in HD 64

Jessica Harrington_Traci Koster
The district has a significant Republican advantage.

Republican Traci Koster leads her Democratic challenger, Jessica Harrington, by five points, according to a new St. Pete Polls survey released Tuesday.

Koster leads the district among 48% of likely voters surveyed in House District 64 to Harrington’s 43% while 9% remain undecided.

While outside the poll’s margin of error, Koster’s lead is less than the margin by which former HD 64 Rep. James Grant won against Harrington two years ago. In 2018, Grant carried the district with 52% of the vote to Harringon’s 45%. No party affiliated candidate Andy Warrener received the remaining 3%.

Koster’s margin is also lower than the voter registration for Republicans in the district. Republicans have a seven point advantage with 39% of all voters while Democrats carry just 32%. The difference in support for Koster compared to Grant’s victory margin two years ago is largely explained by an increase in Democratic voter registration in the district from 2016 to this year. The party saw a nearly 2% boost in voter representation.

Still, Koster’s support tracks with that of President Donald Trump this election. In the same poll, HD 64 voters showed 51% support for Trump compared to just 47% for Biden with only 1% undecided and less than 1% indicating they plan to vote third party. Her margin is also greater than Gov. Ron DeSantis’ voter approval margin, which shows the Governor in favor with 49% and out of favor with 45%.

Koster also carries a likely advantage in voter turnout. Of all registered voters, 42% of Republicans are active voters while only 33% of Democrats are. Active voters are those who have voted in an election within the past four years.

Not surprisingly, support falls largely along party lines with 78% of Democrats supporting Harrington and 73% of Republicans supporting Koster. Koster claims slightly more cross party support with 16% of voters crossing the aisle for her compared to just 15% of Republicans supporting Harrington.

Republicans are more undecided than Democrats with 12% of GOP voters indicating they hadn’t chosen a candidate yet and only 6% of Democrats remaining unsure.

Koster leads among White voters 51% to 40%, but trails among Black voters 24% to 65%. However, the district is predominately white. White voters make up 74% of all registered in the district while Black voters account for just 5% of the district. Of those polled, 452 were White only 37 were Black.

Koster also leads Harrington among both men and women. She leads in all age demographics as well, with the notable and possibly surprising exception of voters aged 70 and older. There, Harrington holds a 46% to 42% advantage.

The poll was conducted among 579 likely HD 64 voters on Sept. 28. It has a margin of error of 4%.

Koster entered the race late in mid-August after Grant resigned his seat to take a job as Florida’s Chief Information Officer.

Koster, a lawyer, has been aggressively fundraising to catch up to Harrington who has been raising funds for the better part of two years. The Democratic teacher has raised nearly $207,000 since December of 2018 while Koster has brought in just shy of $75,000. Koster retains more than $50,000 in her campaign account while Harrington still has about $130,000 to work with.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


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