Exit poll smiles on John Tecklenburg, Leon Stavrinakis

Voters cast their ballots at Oakland Elementary in West Ashley on Tuesday.

The first votes are being tallied, but things look pretty good for Charleston mayoral candidates John Tecklenburg and Leon Stavrinakis.

It also looks good for Mount Pleasant Town Council candidates backed by supporters of Save Shem Creek, including Bob Brimmer, Joe Bustos, Will Haynie and Jim Owens — as well as those who favor a property tax increase for the town’s parks and recreation.

They all came out on top of an exit poll conducted by the University School of the Lowcountry, a small private school in Mount Pleasant that surveyed several hundred voters Tuesday at more than a dozen voting locations.

Tecklenburg had 40 percent, while Stavrinakis had 28 percent. WINGS for Kids founder Ginny Deerin placed third with 23 percent.

If these poll results are borne out by tonight’s vote count, then Tecklenburg and Stavrinakis will meet in a Nov. 17 runoff.

This is at least the seventh election in which the school’s third through 12th grade students have conducted exit polls, and their track record is solid.

Four years ago, the school’s students correctly forecast Mayor Joe Riley’s re-election win as well as three of the four Mount Pleasant Town Council winners.

In 2013, the school’s polls showed Mount Pleasant mayoral candidate Linda Page winning with 57 percent — which turned out to be her precise margin of victory.

“We get better all the time because the school is growing,” Head of School Jason Kreutner said Tuesday. “We only get more accurate.”

The exit polling was done in the mid morning and early afternoon, but those voters’ choices don’t differ from those voting later in the day, Kreutner said.

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“It’s a great lesson about how numbers and statistics, with a certain sample size, can predict behavior for the second part of the day,” he added.

The school does not release its results until the polls close at 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, the actual results of today’s elections will trickle in any minute now, and full, unofficial results are expected to be tallied up by about 10 p.m.

The Charleston polling places surveyed were: Burke High School, Hazel Parker Playground, Drayton Hall Elementary, West Ashley Middle School, Stiles Point Elementary School, Daniel Island School, Mason Prep School, St. John’s High School, Sanders-Clyde School, James Island Charter High, Northbridge Baptist Church, Mitchell Elementary School, and the St. Andrew’s School of Math & Science.

The Mount Pleasant polling places surveyed were: Mount Pleasant National Guard Armory, Alhambra Hall, Moultrie Middle School, Christ Church, Mount Pleasant Park West Rec Center, Seacoast Church, Mount Pleasant Municipal Complex, Jones Recreation Center, Brickyard Community Center, Greater Goodwill AME, East Cooper Montessori Charter School, Eastbridge Presbyterian Church and Wando High School.

Reach Robert Behre at (843) 937-5771 or at twitter.com/RobertFBehre.

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