By most accounts, the race for St. Petersburg mayor will be a nail-biter — right up to November 5.
In an Oct. 24 StPetePolls survey, the numbers show former State Representative Rick Kriseman widening the advantage he had since the primary with likely voters to nine points. With all voters, both early and likely, the race is Kriseman with a six-point lead over incumbent Mayor Bill Foster.
Other recent surveys indicate the same six-point difference. The Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/WUSF Public Media performed one such poll, also on Oct. 24. That survey shows Kriseman with 40 percent over Foster’s 34 percent, and 19 percent undecided. Last month, another poll gave the two candidates a virtual tie.
StPetePolls asked 1397 registered voters in the City of St. Petersburg their taste in the mayor’s race. The total voter count — again, both early and likely voters combined — hands Kriseman an overall lead of 48.3 percent to Foster’s 42.6 percent. Nine percent of voters remain undecided.
Looking deeper into the voter breakdown, between who already voted and who will cast ballots in 11 days, the race gets even clearer.
Separating the voters into the 540 people who have already cast early ballots, the results are somewhat evenly split. Each candidate recieved just over 48 percent, with Kriseman enjoying a razor-thin advantage.
When the survey takes in account people who are expected to vote on Election Day, the race turns even further in Kriseman’s favor. Among the 857 voters surveyed who have not yet cast early ballots, but are likely to go to the polls, the race goes to Kriseman by another three points.
In that case, the former City Council member now enjoys a nine-point advantage — 48.1 percent Kriseman, 39.4 percent Foster and 12.5 percent undecided.
Not surprisingly, the race falls neatly within the political party lines. On the campaign trail, both candidates denounced the increasingly partisan nature of the previously non-partisan municipal election while each accusing the other of getting the ball rolling.
However, once the door of party politics opened, both the Democrat and Republican political machines marched through to assist candidates in a big way — without a word of disapproval from Kriseman or Foster. Neither uttered a word about accepting partisan money, much less refusing it.
Republicans favor Foster overall by 34.6 points — 64.2 percent to 29.6 percent Kriseman. The opposite is true for Democrats, who support Kriseman by 35 points — 62.5 percent to 24.5 percent.
Kriseman maintains a nine-point lead among all independent voters, 48.3 percent versus 39.4 percent, 12.3 percent undecided. For likely voters, the spread increases to 16.2 percent, with 49.3 percent Kriseman, 33.1 percent Foster.
Once again, it appears that the black vote may be one of the deciding factors in the mayor’s race. Kriseman has an overall 33 percent lead in the black community, with 59 percent support to Foster’s 26 percent. With likely voters, the split remains above 30 points for Kriseman.
Four years ago, Foster received 63 percent of black votes in his victory over Kathleen Ford. That voter base seems to diminish considerably in 2013, despite last week’s announcement that the mayor will take on a high-level administrator to focus solely on Midtown development.
The StPetePolls study, commissioned by SaintPetersBlog, has a 2.6 percent margin of error for Total voters, and a 3.3 percent margin of error for Likely voters. With Early voters, the margin of error is 4.2 percent.