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Poll of redrawn CD 13 reveals just how close Charlie Crist vs. Rick Baker could be

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

A new survey from St. Pete Polls of a newly reconfigured Congressional District 13 map shows that a potential Charlie Crist vs. Rick Baker matchup could be a cliffhanger.

The survey shows Crist leading with 46.2 percent of the vote, to Baker’s 42.2 percent. The remaining 11.6 percent are undecided.

Baker leads the only declared Democrat in the CD 13 race, Eric Lynn, by a 51-28 percent margin, with 20 percent undecided.

The Florida Supreme Court declared earlier this month that a total of eight congressional districts need to be redrawn, after they ruled that they had been gerrymandered by the Florida Legislature in 2012, in violation of the Fair District constitutional amendments passed by the voters in 2010. Two of those districts reside in the Tampa Bay area — CD 13 in Pinellas County, and CD 14 across the bay in Hillsborough County.

To conduct this survey, St. Pete Polls forecasted what the seat will look like.

“Because of the wording in the court’s ruling, we concluded that district boundaries can’t cross long bridges as the only point of connection with the rest of the district anymore, which makes Pinellas County a lot easier to map given its geography and population,” says Matt Florell with St. Pete Polls. “Taking the entire population from the 14th Congressional District at the southern end of the Pinellas County peninsula and adding it to the existing 13th Congressional District means that we have to remove roughly the same amount of residents from the northern end of the district. We decided to do this in the most compact and even way possible, and we ended up with the map that you see to the right.”

As of now, Lynn is the only declared candidate for the CD 13 seat that is being vacated by Republican incumbent David Jolly, who announced on Monday that he will be running for the GOP Senate nomination for U.S. Senate.

Shortly after Jolly announced that he was out of the race, Charlie Crist tweeted that he was in — if the newly drawn-up Congressional 13 District includes the waterfront condo he lives in that is located in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg. As of now, that area is still part of U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor’s district, CD 14.
Rick Baker, who led St. Petersburg as mayor from 2001-2009, has said he could have some interest in the race, but wants to wait and see how the new district is drawn up.
The Florida Legislature will convene from August 10-21 to redraw the eight congressional districts that they have been mandated to do so by the Florida Supreme Court.
In St. Pete Polls’ newly created map, Republicans lose their 1.8- percentage-point advantage over Democrats. Currently Republicans make up 35.7 percent of the district, Democrats 33.9 percent. Under the new map, Democrats would make up 38.0 percent of the district, Republicans 32.5 percent, giving them a 5.5 percent net increase.
Its new map would double the amount of blacks in the district, from 4.8 percent to 10.7 percent.
That would make the district much more typical of most congressional districts, where incumbents win at a 95 percent clip.
After C.W. Bill Young was elected to the district in 1970, he was re-elected 20 times, always by double-digits. That dominance continued even after the district became much more diverse, in part because of the appreciation that the public had for him, but also because GOP lawmakers configured the district to cut out parts of St. Petersburg that would make it much more competitive.
After Young passed away, a special election last year between Republican David Jolly and Democrat Alex Sink was extremely close, with Jolly winning by less than 2 percentage points. His margin of victory was virtually the same as the discrepancy between Republicans and Democrats in the district.
A St. Pete Polls survey released earlier on Wednesday shows Crist thumping Lynn in a direct matchup in a Democratic Primary, 73-10 percent. Lynn told Florida Politics last week that he has no intention of leaving the race, regardless of whatever Democrat gets in. He has already raised over $400,000.  And even though that poll has to be discouraging to Lynn, Crist shows some vulnerabilities in the general election, whether it’s Baker or another Republican.
In terms of favorability rankings, 46 percent approve of Crist, 42 percent do not. Baker is at 51/23 percent favorable/unfavorable.
In Lynn’s case, most people don’t know him: 19 percent are favorable, 24 percent unfavorable, and a whopping 58 percent say they are unsure. But somewhat surprisingly, two St. Petersburg elected officials who have indicated potential interest in the race, state Rep. Dwight Dudley and City Councilwoman Darden Rice, have similar numbers.
In the case of Dudley, 19.6 percent favorable, 20.1 percent unfavorable, and 60.3 percent are unsure.
In the case of Rice, 19.0 percent favorable, 22 percent unfavorable, and 59.1 percent are unsure.
Another interesting part of this poll: although former Mayor Baker commanded large swaths of the black vote in his election victories in 2001 and 2005, Crist dominates him with that demographic in this survey by a 64-19 percentage-point difference.
The voters polled were chosen at random among the registered voter population within the estimated new boundaries of the 13th U.S. Congressional District from Florida. The random sample used was made up of a proportional sampling of registered voters that voted in either the 2012 or 2014 general elections. The scientific results shown for the questions below have a sample size of 1,145 and a 2.9 percent Margin of Error at a 95 percent confidence level.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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