New polling shows Naples may be headed for a close Mayor’s race next year.
Survey results published by Victory Insights show Mayor Teresa Heitmann virtually tied with City Council member Ted Blankenship, who filed for the mayoral race in October. The polling showed a fraction of a percentage point separating the two, with 24.1% of those surveyed planning to vote for Heitmann and 23.8% planning to vote for Blankenship. Less than 11% intend to support former Naples City Council member Gary Price.
Pollsters report a 4.3% margin of error. The firm surveyed registered voters between Nov. 24 and 26.
A General Election is scheduled for March 19. Candidates have until Jan. 19 at 5 p.m. to qualify.
Senior pollster Ben Galbraith in a memo said the poll results reflect how the frontrunners have been in the forefront of controversial issues debated at City Hall.
“The data indicates that the race is shaping up to be a showdown between a first-term mayor (Heitmann) and one of her colleagues on the City Council (Blankenship),” he wrote. “This dynamic has resulted in a number of public spats in recent months where the two have found themselves on opposing sides of issues such as drag shows, tax hikes, and development codes.”
Election simulations at this point indicate two likely outcomes. Running 10,000 simulations based on Victory Insights polling and modeling, Heitmann won 52% of the time, and Blankenship won just under 48%, with Price winning a statistically insignificant number.
Victory Insights has a presence in Naples and has polled a number of races in the state and nationwide.
Heitmann in 2020 won the Mayor’s race, unseating incumbent Bill Barnett.
The polling also checked favorability ratings on all candidates. It found Blankenship in better shape there than Heitmann, even though both are polling about even.
About 32% of voters have a positive view of Blankenship, compared to 13% who see him negatively.
By comparison, Heitmann is slightly underwater, with 25% voicing a positive opinion but 26% voicing a negative one.
For price, 12% see him positively and 11% negatively.
All come into the race relatively unknown, and many voters offered no opinion who they would support. About 49% had a neutral opinion on the Mayor, while 55% had no opinion on Blankenship. A full 77% offered nothing on Price.
More than 41% of voters said they remain undecided in the contest.