Poll shows Pat Kemp poised to keep Commission position

pat kemp
The incumbent Democrat leads Republican commissioner Sandra Murman by five points.

A new poll shows Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp poised for victory next week over fellow incumbent Sandra Murman.

A St. Pete Polls survey out Wednesday shows Democrat Kemp leading Republican Murman 46% to 41% with 14% either undecided or unwilling to indicate their preference.

The two are vying for the District 6 seat, which Kemp currently holds. Murman currently represents District 1, but is leaving that seat due to term limits.

Kemp’s five point lead is well outside the poll’s 3.5% margin of error.

Democrats have a significant advantage in voter registration with 362,119 of the county’s 920,860 eligible voters, 39%, registered as Democrats. Only 288,632, 31%, are Republicans. Voters with no party affiliation make up 28% of the electorate.

The poll shows some signs of hope for Murman with a nearly two point lead among independent voters at 43% to 41%, though that lead isn’t enough to make up the balance. Another 16% of independents are undecided, indicating Murman would have to claim much of those undecided votes to bridge the gap.

But Kemp has already turned out more of her voters.

Of Kemp’s supporters, 53% said they have already voted. Only 35% of Murman’s supporters have already cast their ballot. Murman will need to turn out her supporters and hope Kemp’s voters stay home.

Kemp’s support is less than former Vice President Joe Biden’s lead over President Donald Trump in the County. The poll put Biden 10 points ahead at 53% to 43%.

Kemp’s lead shows signs of benefitting from disenchantment with the sitting President. While 17% of Democrats say they plan to or have already voted for Murman, 19% of Republicans are voting or will vote for Kemp.

Murman not surprisingly leads among White voters 48% to 39%, but Kemp leads in every other racial demographic including 65% to 16% among Black voters.

Both men and women are breaking for Kemp with a seven point lead among men and a five point lead among women.

Kemp leads among every age demographic except for seniors. Voters 70 and older support Murman 45% to 36%, though 19% are still undecided. Kemp’s largest lead is among 30 to 49 year olds at 50% to 38%.

The race is an important one for both political parties. Democrats currently hold a 4-3 majority on the board. If Kemp holds onto her seat and a Democrat wins Murman’s seat, the board will shift to a 5-2 majority for Democrats. But if Kemp were to lose and a Republican were to win Murman’s seat, Republicans would regain a majority on the commission.

It looks like Republicans’ best bet is to maintain the current makeup of the board. Former Tampa City Council member Harry Cohen is considered a frontrunner for Murman’s District 1 seat against Republican Scott Levinson.

Cohen has raised more than $208,000 for that race while Levinson has brought in less than $19,000. Meanwhile, Murman has raised nearly $450,000 to Kemp’s $250,000.

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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