Same pollster as before, nearly the same result.
There has been almost no movement in Houston’s mayoral race over the last three months, with state Sen. John Whitmire and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee still firmly entrenched atop the crowded field, according to a new poll from the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs.
The frontrunners’ numbers, 34% and 31% respectively, are nearly exactly where they stood in the Hobby School’s July 25 poll, with Jackson Lee slipping just one percentage point. No other candidate in the field has eclipsed 4%, and Whitmire still comfortably leads in a potential runoff against the congresswoman, 50% to 36%.
With less than two weeks to go before early voting begins Oct. 23, the poll indicates other candidates have been unable to separate themselves from the pack to directly challenge Whitmire and Jackson Lee. Even if all 22% of undecided voters joined one of the other contenders, they would still trail Whitmire and Jackson Lee.
“When you look at the name ID question, folks just don’t know these other candidates,” said Renee Cross, senior executive director of the Hobby School and an author of the poll, which asked a representative group of 800 likely Houston voters for their preferences.
“Anything is possible, but particularly with that many candidates, the clock is ticking. I think it’s going to be really difficult for anybody to push one of them out of the runoff.”
Former Metro Chair Gilbert Garcia and former councilmember Jack Christie tied at 4% in the poll, with attorney Lee Kaplan (2%), Councilmember Robert Gallegos (1%), and others lagging behind. That is mostly where they were in July, with Garcia ticking up a point and Gallegos moving down one. Christie was not included in the July poll.
Candidates will have to hit 5% to be included in the last debate of the election season on Oct. 30, hosted by the Houston Chronicle, ABC13 and Univision.
See here for the previous poll, here for the UH/Hobby Center Houston 2023 polling homepage, and here for the poll report. I don’t have much to say this time that I didn’t say last time, so go read my previous post for that commentary. The one oddball thing that caught my eye is that while this poll somehow includes the names of 14 of the 17 candidates running for Mayor, one of the candidates they didn’t mention is Annie Garcia, who managed to qualify for that Tuesday debate even as Gilbert Garcia and Robert Gallegos fell short. Maybe the poll questions didn’t list all 17 candidates, or maybe she legitimately got no mentions from any respondents. Go figure. Anyway, if this is the only poll in town, that next debate is going to be a much more concentrated affair.
Former Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, meanwhile, has broadened his lead in the city controller’s race. The poll finds he has twice as much support as any other candidate, with 29% of voters intending to vote for him, up 5 percentage points since July. Orlando Sanchez has 14% (down 2), Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin 8% (up 2), and Chief Deputy City Controller Shannan Nobles 4% (up 1). In that race, 45% of voters are undecided.
The poll also asked the likely Houston voters for their position on Prop A, the charter amendment that would allow any three council members to put an item on the City Council’s weekly agenda. The mayor currently controls the agenda almost entirely.
It found more than half of voters (57%) plan to support the measure, with just 12% against and 31% undecided. The other city charter amendment, Prop B, was written at a college level of reading comprehension, according to the poll’s organizers, which makes it too complex to poll. That measure would seek more proportional representation for Houston on regional planning boards.
Similarly, more than half of the electorate (59%) plans to support Harris County’s $2.5 billion bond package to build a new Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital. More residents (25%) oppose that measure, especially among Republicans.
Just a reminder, my interview with Dave Martin is here, with Chris Hollins is here, on Prop B/Fair for Houston is here, and on the Harris County hospital bond is here. I assume they had a separate sample just for that question that included non-Houston Harris County voters? If not, that result isn’t nearly as good as it looks. Houston Landing has more.