Although Will Newton leads in the race to replace his brother, Wengay Newton, on the St. Petersburg City Council, more than one-third of likely District 7 voters remain undecided.
According to a new St. Pete Polls survey commissioned by SaintPetersBlogFlorida, the contest for South St. Pete, Midtown, and the Child’s Park neighborhood has Newton on top with nearly 25 percent.
Former attorney Sheila Scott Griffin takes second with 18 percent, followed by Lisa Wheeler-Brown, past president of the Council of Neighborhood Associations, with 12 percent. Wheeler-Brown was considered by many to be the presumptive frontrunner.
Neighborhood activist Aaron Sharpe polls at 9 percent, while public-school employee and first-time candidate Lewis Stephens Jr. sits in last place with 3 percent.
Despite Newton’s seemingly early lead, two polling factors suggest the District 7 race remains a tossup.
First, researchers found an overall 34 percent of voters are undecided, particularly independents (42 percent). Newton and Griffin each score well with Democrats – 25 and 21 percent respectively – but the undecided with that group is also around 32 percent.
Second, the poll presents a comparatively high margin of error, just under +/- 7 percent, meaning the lead (at this point) is clearly wide open.
Nevertheless, the St. Pete Polls survey does provide one solid takeaway – the likelihood that Newton will indeed make it to the city’s November 3 general election.
The survey, conducted July 20, used an automated phone polling system, with a random sampling of 202 register voters weighted for demographics of the City of St Petersburg District 7. Demographics in the survey were broken down by political party, race, age, and gender.
The scientific results are +/- 6.9 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level.