ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, vote totals tell us who won and by how much, but that's about it. In last week's case, they indicated that Rick Kriseman defeated Mayor Bill Foster by a commanding 12 points.
But who gave Kriseman that victory? Could he have won, even without the crucial African-American vote? How did voters' opinions change since the primary? A Tampa Bay Times review offers some intriguing insights into Kriseman's unprecedented victory:
• Kriseman won 67 precincts — nearly three times as many as Foster.
• Many believed that this race, like others before it, would be decided by black voters. Both Kriseman and Foster consistently targeted African-American neighborhoods. In the final weeks of the campaign, Foster even opened a Midtown office and vowed to hire a high-ranking administrator to focus on developing Midtown. The Times review, however, showed that even when ignoring the 19 precincts populated by a majority of black voters, Kriseman still would have won, albeit by just more than 1,000 votes. That said, Kriseman's wide margin of victory was clearly the result of his support from black neighborhoods — he won all 19 primarily black precincts.
• Kriseman also captured 19 precincts that Foster had won in the primary. On Tuesday, Foster took just one from Kriseman.
• Foster won 22 precincts, including Shore Acres and surrounding neighborhoods (but not the Old Northeast) and a few western districts. All of those precincts are home to at least 70 percent white voters.
• Even in the areas where Foster prevailed, he earned far from overwhelming support. A tally of the votes in those 22 precincts found that the mayor earned just 57 percent of the vote, and in the area that gave him the strongest support (around Eckerd College) he won just 65 percent.
John Woodrow Cox can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8472.