Poll: Democrat Pat Gerard narrowly leads Ed Hooper in Pinellas commission race

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The race between former State Representative Ed Hooper and Largo Mayor Pat Gerard for Pinellas County Commission is about as close as it gets. Gerard is barely leading Hooper by just one point.

In a St. Pete Polls survey released today, 46 percent of respondents said if the election were held today (the day they were polled) they would vote for Gerard. Only 45 percent said they would vote for Hooper.

The poll was conducted yesterday among 3,089 likely voters. Of those, 53 percent indicated they had already voted and 47 percent plan to.

Hooper, the Republican in the race, defeated incumbent district 2 commissioner Norm Roche in the primary. Despite the fact that he is leading Gerard in fundraising by nearly $150,000 and has strong party backing, the results indicate his campaign could be in trouble. Of those surveyed, 42 percent were Republican while only 37 percent were Democrats and 21 percent independents. Nearly 15 percent of Democrats surveyed said they would vote against the party for Hooper, while just shy of 18 percent of Republicans would vote for Gerard. Gerard is also stealing more of the independent vote with nearly 47 percent favoring her verses 39 percent for Hooper.

The district they are running in is countywide. Pinellas has more than 225,000 registered Democrats and only 220,400 Republicans. There are just over 178,000 registered to other parties or no party at all.

There is a silver lining for Hooper. Historically Republican turnout for mid-term elections is higher than Democratic turnout. So far during Early Voting 61,620 Republicans have already voted either by mail or at an early voting location. Only 53,778 Democrats have voted so far with just under 29,000 other party affiliated voters having cast a ballot.

Voter turnout so far with 1 days until the election is above 23 percent. Voter turnout in the primary was just shy of 24 percent and that turnout led the state for mid-term election primaries. In August, nearly 80 percent of votes were cast by mail.

Many Democrats hope the medical marijuana statewide ballot measure will drive more progressives to the polls this election.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.