With Edna Jackson as clear frontrunner, the race is on for second spot in Savannah mayoral runoff

Judging from a new poll by InsiderAdvantage, Edna Jackson will pick up the most votes in Tuesday’s mayoral election in Savannah. Larry Peterson writes about the poll in the SMN/SavannahNow today: Poll: Voters like Edna Jackson for Savannah mayor, Sunday alcohol sales

The poll found Jackson with 31.3% of the vote, with Jeff Felser (15.1%) and Regina Thomas (14.7%) trailing. Ellis Cook and Floyd Adams were virtually tied with just over 9% of the vote.

But — and this is a big “but” — 20.3% of respondents were undecided. How many of the undecided will stay home? How many will make a last minute decision to go with a candidate they know already? How many will choose one who represents a clear change? (But do any represent a clear change, given their pasts as council members? Only Regina Thomas and James Dewberry, who is far back in the polling but could still play a role in the outcome, have never been on council.)

Felser might be doing even better among young voters than I suspected, with nearly half those between 18 and 29 opting for him. That’s a stunning number, but it also suggests that he has not made adequate inroads among older voters. Still, in a race where turnout is important and with many young voters motivated to get to the polls by the referendum on Sunday sales, Felser would seem to be in good shape for Tuesday. At 49, Felser is a decade younger than Thomas, and Jackson, Cook, and Adams are all over 65. There seems to be an interesting generational fault line exposed in this campaign.

It’s worth noting that Thomas has been strong and forceful in the debates and in public appearances. She has seemed more focused than in previous races.

The top two votegetters will face each other in a runoff. It seems pretty much a given that one of those will be Jackson. I know many people who say she would simply be more of the same, just a continuation of the current Johnson administration, but I think there will be a pretty drastic difference in tone if Jackson is elected. She’ll work harder to please constituents and will be more open to new ideas — or to rethinking old ideas — than Johnson has been, I think.

Either Felser or Thomas could be a strong, strong challenge in a runoff. It’s easy to imagine scenarios in which either could emerge as the victor, even if Jackson does considerably better in the first vote.

Recently, Larry Peterson also gave an overview of the race, as well as brief profiles of the major candidates: Floyd Adams, Ellis Cook, James Dewberry, Jeff Felser, Edna Jackson, and Regina Thomas.