Poll: Copley Gerdes leads Bobbie Shay Lee in tight race for St. Pete City Council

Gerdes, Lee
Gerdes has a five-point advantage in the race to replace Robert Blackmon.

Copley Gerdes is heading into Election Day with a five-point lead, just outside the margin of error, over his opponent in the District 1 City Council race, Bobbie Shay Lee.

A St. Pete Polls survey conducted Tuesday shows Gerdes with 39% support to Lee’s 34%. While 27% of voters polled indicated they were either unsure or didn’t want to say who they supported, the trend is positive for Gerdes.

In September, most recent polling shows Gerdes with a more than three percentage point lead, but with 56% of voters still undecided. Now, more people have made up their minds, and more of those decisions have gone Gerdes’ way.

And more people have already cast a ballot for Gerdes than Lee. Of those who said they support Gerdes, 42% have already voted. Meanwhile, only 37% of those who said they support Lee have already cast their ballot.

Gerdes’ lead is only slightly outside the poll’s 4.3% margin of error, and with undecided voters factored, there’s still room for movement.

Lee leads among Black voters with 30% support to Gerdes’ 25%, but both could gain ground with 44% not indicating a preference.

Gerdes also has room to improve on his lead through partisan voters. He leads among Democrats with 47% support to Lee’s 25%, while 27% didn’t indicate a preference. While the race is nonpartisan — candidates’ political affiliations won’t appear on the ballot — Gerdes is a registered Democrat, Lee, a Republican.

That leaves Lee also with room to improve. She leads among Republican voters with 49% support to Gerdes’ 24%, with 26% not indicating a preference.

By age, the city’s youngest voters are the most undecided, with 37% not indicating a preferred candidate. There, Gerdes and Lee are split at 32% support each. Just over 30% of the city’s oldest voters, those 70 and up, are still undecided. Gerdes leads in that demographic with 38% support to Lee’s 31%. Gerdes also leads among voters ages 30-49 with 48% support to 32%, but trails among those 50-69 with 35% support to Lee’s 38%.

Gerdes heads into Tuesday’s General Election with a couple of advantages. St. Pete has more registered Democratic voters than those with the GOP. According to the most recent voter registration data available with the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office, the city of St. Pete has 88,055 registered Democrats and 49,527 registered Republicans.

The two candidates finished the August Primary election neck and neck, both taking 34% of the vote. But that race was open only to voters who reside within District 1, one of only two districts with a Republican majority in voter registration.

Further, Gerdes comes with strong name recognition. His father, Charlie Gerdes, previously served two terms on the council.

But Lee has a strong resume and a compelling story. She’s a former cheerleader for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and currently works as a lobbyist, experience she can use to tell voters she’s ready on day one. She also is a breast cancer survivor and staunch advocate for research to treat the disease. And while she trails Gerdes slightly in overall fundraising for the race, she’s raised enough to get her message out, bringing in nearly $64,000 since launching her campaign.

The poll was taken among 524 likely St. Pete voters. Election Day is Tuesday, with polls open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. As of Wednesday morning, voter turnout in the race was at 15.5%.

The candidates are running to replace City Council member Robert Blackmon, who resigned his seat to run for Mayor.

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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