To get an accurate bead on the state of the St. Petersburg mayoral race, I commissioned my own survey with the good folks over at St. Pete Polls. The results were very telling. In a nutshell, the voters want Rick Baker to run again and they'd vote for him over Bill Foster; the voters don't want Kathleen Ford to run; and if left with just Bill Foster vs. Rick Kriseman, the incumbent is not as far ahead as earlier polling might suggest.
Forty-four percent of registered voters in the city would like to see Rick Baker run for a third term as mayor. On the other hand, 42% would not like to see Baker on the ballot again. If you peer into the cross-tabs, you see that much of those who do not want to see Baker run again are voters who would support either Ford or Kriseman. Regardless, with forty-four percent of city voters saying they would like to see him run again, the prospect of Baker entering the field must remain a strong possibility.
This is especially true when Baker's name is poll-tested against Foster and "someone else." In this three-way scenario, Baker easily trumps Foster and the rest of the field, with Baker receiving 40% of support, "someone else" receiving 37% and Foster receiving only 23%. In other words, if Baker were to run with both Foster and Kriseman/Ford on the ballot, it's a distinct possibility that incumbent Bill Foster would not make it out of the primary.
Voters do not want to see former City Councilwoman and two-time mayoral candidate Kathleen Ford give it a third try. 39% are opposed to a possible Ford run, while 33% say they would like to see it. These numbers leave a big chunk of voters (28%) saying they are unsure about Ford seeking the mayor's office. I really don't know what to make of that as I would assume most voters have their minds made up about Ford's brand of politics.
Assuming that neither Baker nor Ford enter the race and the field remains static with Foster or Kriseman, the race is much closer than earlier polling which showed Foster with a wide lead over Kriseman. This earlier poll was taken before Kathleen Ford screwed the pooch in court. And while he was not included in earlier polling, Ken Welch was viewed as a possible mayoral candidate. The earlier polling also included former mayoral candidate Scott Wagman as a possible choice; Wagman has told Kriseman and others he is not running, so I've removed his name from this poll.
As you can imagine, Kriseman's numbers improve once progressive-minded Wagman's name is no longer an option and Welch is out of the picture. Still, Foster leads Kriseman in a heads-up match-up, 38% to 34%, with 28% of voters undecided. The importance of how close already this race is cannot be stressed enough. Kriseman filed to run just two weeks ago (!) and he is only four points behind Foster. This poll should set off alarm bells with Foster and his supporters.
One other polling tidbit, the race for District 4 between David McKalip and Darden Rice was surveyed. Although 50% of voters say they are undecided, Rice would begin the campaign with a eight point lead over McKalip, 29% to 21%.
This poll of 690 City of St. Petersburg registered voters was conducted on Monday, February 18. This poll used the registered voter lists supplied by the state of Florida as of January 3, 2013.
The scientific results shown in the summary below have a sample size of 690 and margin of error of 3.7% at a 95% confidence level.