Yesterday, a local phone banking operation, St. Pete Polls, released the results of its latest survey of pretty much every race on the primary ballot in Pinellas. I am hesitant to post these numbers because they run counter to not only my own internal polling but to that of other consultants working in these races.
I can’t share those numbers, but I can tell you where sh*t stands.
The numbers from St. Pete Polls showing Bob Gualtieri leading Everett Rice may or may not be accurate, but they certainly show one thing: direction. A month ago, Rice was leading Gualtieri by four points, according to St. Pete Polls. Now, Gualtieri is ahead of Rice by about that same amount. Regardless of whether Gualtieri is really leading Rice, that’s an eight-point swing. That’s momentum.
I’ve said all along that, on a long enough timeline, Gualtieri would beat Rice because Gualtieri is, at this point in his career, just a more impressive figure than Rice. But elections do not occur on infinite timelines. They are finite. Gualtieri has until August 14 to overcome Rice’s inherent advantages. I just don’t know if there is enough time.
(Of course, if Gualtieri does not beat Rice, look for him to be the next Chief of Police in St. Petersburg.)
As for the other high-profile race surveyed by St. Pete Polls — Jeff Brandes vs. Jim Frishe for State Senate District 22 — the numbers show Brandes with a fourteen point lead over Jim Frishe, no internal poll I have seen has Brandes with that much of a lead. With hundreds of thousands of dollars in media behind him, I don’t doubt Brandes is ahead of Frishe, but not fourteen points ahead.
I also doubt the numbers in Congressional District 13. Only 48.6% of voters are decided on U.S. Rep. Bill Young? That’s highly suspicious.
Or Ed Hooper is “only” leading Chris Shepard by twenty-three points in House District 67? That doesn’t sound right.
Ken Welch is leading Maria Scruggs by just seven points? No way.
I will gladly take the over in all of those races, even after you evenly divide the undecided voters.
The findings in some of the down-ballot races are even more suspicious.
In a race for Circuit Court Judge, Bill Burgess is leading Andy Steingold by two-to-one? Anyone who thinks Burgess is going to beat Steingold by that much, if at all, is welcome to put their money where their mouth is.
Somehow, Shelly Ladd-Gilbert is winning the race for District 1 on the school board. I promise — PROMISE — she will not finish better than third-place. There is just no way — NO WAY — she is ahead of the incumbent, Janet Clark, and Jim Jackson and Elliot Stern.
With respect to my friends at St. Pete Polls, this survey is either not very accurate or is riddled with outliers.
In the past, I’ve given a lot of credence to St. Pete Polls, but at this point, I think I’ll have to trust my gut.