We have our first polling numbers for the 2015 Mayoral election.
Sylvester Turner and Adrian Garcia have emerged as the clear front-runners in the first independent poll before the election that will determine Houston’s next mayor.
The KHOU – Houston Public Media Poll indicates a clear divide between two tiers of candidates, with Turner and Garcia well ahead of all other contenders to take charge at Houston City Hall after the term-limited Mayor Annise Parker leaves office at the end of this year.
Turner, the longtime state representative making his third run for mayor, leads the pack with 16-percent of surveyed likely voters. Garcia, the former Harris County sheriff, comes in second at 12-percent.
The rest of the candidates in the poll drop into single digits. Chris Bell, the former congressman making his second run for mayor, won the support of 8-percent of surveyed voters.
Both Ben Hall, the former city attorney making his second mayoral run, and former Kemah mayor Bill King, stand at 3-percent. City Councilman Stephen Costello stands at 2-percent.
“There’s two tiers of candidates,” said Bob Stein, the KHOU political analyst and Rice University political scientist who designed the poll. “If you had to pick a runoff match-up, it would have to be Turner and Garcia. And I don’t think that comes as any surprise.”
And here’s the KUHF version of the story, with audio.
News 88.7 Managing News Editor Jose Luis Jimenez sat down with pollster and Rice University Political Science Professor Bob Stein for a closer look at the results of our exclusive News 88.7/KHOU 11 News Houston Mayoral Election Poll.
Click on the audio link above to listen to the conversation.
To view the full poll results – including what Houston voters think are the major issues in the race – visit the 2015 Houston Mayoral Race special page.
OK then, let’s click the link.
Mayor Annise Parker cannot run again for Mayor because of term limits. There are seven major candidates for mayor. For whom would you be likely to vote for if the election were held today?
Choices All RVs LVs ================================== Stephen Costello 4% 4% 2% Bill King 2% 2% 3% Sylvester Turner 14% 13% 16% Adrian Garcia 15% 15% 12% Chris Bell 5% 4% 8% Marty McVey 1% 1% 0% Ben Hall 3% 3% 3% Don't know 53% 54% 50% Refused 3% 4% 6%
And finally, the methodology:
Methodology: Polling was conducted from May 20 to June 21, 2015 using two simultaneous samples of 500 eligible voters each. The first sample included registered voters (i.e. “Likely Voters”) who voted in two of the last three municipal elections in 2009, 2011 and 2013. The second sample included all other registered voters (i.e. “Registered Voters) who voted in at least one of the last three municipal elections. Results are reported for both samples separately and combined. The combined sample is weighted to reflect the actual representation of likely voters in the 2015 municipal election. The margin of error for each sample is +/- 4.5% and margin of error for the combined weighted sample is +/- 3.2%.
What do I think?
1. I think this mostly recapitulates name ID, which is about what you’d expect at this point.
2. I’ve complained about “likely voter” screens for this kind of poll in the past, but I have no major complaints here. Screening for those who have voted in two out of the last three city elections is the way I’d do it. The Likely Voter sample is whiter, richer, and older (average age = 69) than the sample as a whole and much more so than the city as a whole, which is – for better and worse – the kind of electorate we tend to get in our odd-numbered-year elections. The candidates and campaigns have the capability of altering the size and shape of the electorate, though barring anything strange it’s unlikely to change much. Bottom line is there’s nothing here that screams “unrepresentative sample” to me.
3. Don’t be mesmerized by the high “Don’t know” level. A late September 2013 poll, six weeks out from an election that featured a two-time incumbent, had a 48% “Don’t know” response. Here, each candidate has some base level of support, and the rest are people that I think very likely really don’t know yet. I’d have given the same answer myself if I had been polled, and I’m not exactly a low-information voter. Sometimes “Don’t know” means “I haven’t paid enough attention to it yet to have any idea”, sometimes it means “I do know who I’m voting for but I like to think I’m keeping my options open”, and sometimes it means “There’s more than one candidate that I like and I don’t know yet which one I’ll pick”.
4. Similarly, don’t let the low numbers for the nominal Republican candidates (King and Costello) fool you. Roy Morales polled at five and six percent in those 2009 polls, but wound up with 20% and actually did better than Peter Brown on Election Day itself, thanks in part to Republican voters figuring out and being told that he was “their guy” in the latter stages of the campaign. King and Costello will get their share of the vote, though it remains to be seen if it will be enough for a runoff for either of them. Their main danger is having some of those votes poached, by either a late entry from the wingnut population (think Eric Dick) or from Ben Hall, who has gone full-on anti-HERO. I don’t think there’s a lot of these votes to be siphoned off, but in a tight multi-candidate race like this it doesn’t take much to put the runoff out of reach.
5. When people ask me who I think will make the runoff, my answer is a firm shrug of the shoulders. I can make a case for at least five candidates to have a shot at it – Hall and McVey are the ones that I think are highly unlikely to make it into the top two. It’s entirely possible to me that only a few thousand votes will separate second place from fourth or fifth, and any number of things including dumb luck can affect who winds up a contender and who finishes as a palooka.
So that’s how it looks for now. There will be more polls, and things will surely look different as we go forward. PDiddie has more.