ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - FOX 13 pollster Matt Towery correctly predicted Florida’s presidential elections in 2016 and 2020 and his polls have ranked among the most accurate nation. Now his first poll of 2021 shows Ken Welch is the early, though slight, frontrunner in the St. Petersburg race for mayor.
Towery’s InsiderAdvantage Survey, exclusive to FOX 13 Tampa Bay, includes three announced candidates -- Wengay Newton, Darden Rice, and Ken Welch -- and two potential candidates, Robert Blackmon and Deveron Gibbons.
"If the race for mayor of St. Petersburg were held today, for whom would you vote?"
- Ken Welch: 12%
- Wengay Newton: 8%
- Darden Rice: 7%
- Robert Blackmon: 6%
- Deveron Gibbons: 0%
- Undecided: 67%
"The potential candidates have little hard name identification at this time. Most people can’t name members of a city council or county commission. That said, their named identification and share of the vote will grow once advertising starts in the race," said Towery. "Only Ken Welch has enough traction at this point to be almost above the margin of error of the others and enjoy a slight advantage. It really is anybody’s race to win."
The poll also found controlling crime is the top issue for voters.
- Controlling Crime/Keeping City Safe: 35%
- Controlling Cost of Living and Taxes: 29%
- Making Housing Affordable: 21%
- Advancing Social Justice: 9%
- Preserving Environment: 6%
"The pandemic has voters focused more on pocketbook and safety issues. Controlling crime is by far the biggest issue with African American with over 50 percent of respondents saying it was their top issue," Towery continued. "Issues such as preserving the environment, which normally scores pretty high, have slipped likely due to financial concerns over taxes and the cost of living in the middle of an unexpected pandemic."
The poll conducted January 31 sampled 400 registered voters with a margin of error of 4.2%.