Oct 10, 2023 - News

UH mayor poll: Voters remain split

Illustration of a series of pie and bar charts laid out and colored to resemble the arrangement of the U.S. flag

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Unmoved by months of campaigning, voters largely maintain their sentiment toward the two mayoral election frontrunners — Texas Sen. John Whitmire and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee — as they did in the summer, per a new University of Houston poll.

Driving the news: The Hobby School of Public Affairs on Tuesday released its updated survey of who Houstonians favor in the 2023 mayoral election.

  • The survey was conducted between Sept. 30 and Oct. 6, with 800 respondents and a 3.5% margin of error.

What they found: 34% of likely voters intend to cast a ballot for Whitmire, 31% for Jackson Lee and no more than 4% for any of the other 15 candidates — similar to the findings in Hobby's poll in July.

  • In the likely December runoff, Whitmire could be poised to win, with 50% of voters leaning toward the state senator and 36% favoring the congresswoman.

The intrigue: One in five likely voters is undecided. Among the 22% of undecided likely voters, 62% indicated they'd consider voting for Whitmire and 36% for Jackson Lee.

What they're saying: "Despite essentially more than two months of campaigning, as well as an increasingly large number of attacks on John Whitmire from both the Jackson Lee campaign, some of the second-tier candidates, as well as others, Whitmire both maintains a modest lead in the first round and a substantial lead in a runoff," Mark Jones, a co-author of the report, tells Axios.

Between the lines: In the nonpartisan election, both of the frontrunners are Democrats. Jackson Lee is the favored candidate among Democrats in a runoff while Whitmire is favored among Republicans in a runoff.

  • Jackson Lee has strong support among Black respondents while Whitmire had an advantage with white and Latino likely voters.

Details: 5% said they did not know enough about Jackson Lee to have an opinion about voting for her compared to 15% who did not know enough about Whitmire.

  • 43% of likely voters say they would never vote for Jackson Lee, compared to 15% who say they would never vote for Whitmire.

Meanwhile, almost half of likely voters remain undecided on the city controller, who serves as the city's chief financial officer.

  • Many of the likely voters don't know who the four candidates are. Jones says there's also a segment of the population that doesn't know the controller seat is up for election or doesn't know what the controller does.
  • Despite many voters not knowing the candidates, former Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins is in the lead and is positioned to win.

What we're watching: UH will soon release another report examining voters' thoughts on policy.

What's next: Early voting is from Oct. 23 to Nov 3. Election Day is Nov. 7.

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