New poll shows Jane Castor up by 36 points in Tampa mayor’s race

The University of North Florida survey shows the former police chief with a commanding lead over retired banker David Straz.
Tampa candidates for Mayor Jane Castor and David Straz are seen in this combination of images Tuesday, March 5, 2019 in Tampa.
Tampa candidates for Mayor Jane Castor and David Straz are seen in this combination of images Tuesday, March 5, 2019 in Tampa.
Published April 16, 2019

Jane Castor nearly won the election six weeks ago, falling just short of the 50 percent needed to end the race.

A University of North Florida poll released Tuesday suggests she’s only extended her lead since then over her opponent David Straz with a week left until voters go to the polls on April 23.

The survey of 653 likely voters had 64 percent saying they’ll vote for Castor to 28 percent for Straz when they were contacted between April 10 and April 12. About nine percent remain undecided.

The poll has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points. Poll takers contacted called cell phone numbers for 79 percent of the respondents who "completed’ their responses.

“Castor almost got to 50 percent in the March (5) election, it appears as though she will easily garner a majority of the votes next week,” said Michael Binder, faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Lab at UNF.

Endorsed by popular outgoing Mayor Bob Buckhorn and a 31-year veteran of the Tampa Police Department, Castor is also likely aided by the fact that 78 percent of those surveyed said Florida’s third-largest city is on the right track.

Since making the runoff, Straz has apologetically pursued a determined campaign to attack Castor on her record as police chief, including her plan to accept a mayoral salary (which Straz, who is worth $426 million,has said he’ll refuse), her department’s reporting of crime statistics and a controversial 2014 SWAT raid that ended with a small-time marijuana user being killed by police after pointing a gun at them.

But the poll found that crime or the police department’s conduct isn’t among the top three voter concerns. Access to public transportation was first with 27 percent followed by education at 15 percent and access to health care at 9 percent.

Crime was fourth at 8 percent.

One possible ray of hope for Straz was that 44 percent of voters strongly disapprove of continuing the city’s use of red light cameras at intersections and 54 percent disapprove overall.

That compares to 41 percent of voters who approve of the program, including 25 percent who strongly support it.

Straz says he will end the program if elected mayor. Castor supports the program.

Additional details on the methodology are available at