UH Hobby School (Harris County only): Clinton 43, Trump 34

I have many thoughts about this.

Hillary Clinton

Between September 1 and September 20, 2016, the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs conducted a telephone survey of 550 Harris County registered voters as part of a larger Hobby School study on voter participation and engagement under the direction of Mark P. Jones, Renée Cross, and Jim Granato with Ching-Hsing Wang and Wyman Wan. The survey was based on a stratified probability design, including both landlines and cell phones. The survey was available in both English and Spanish using bilingual operators, and lasted an average of 13 minutes. The final data set was weighted by ethnicity, age, and gender to be representative of Harris County registered voters. The margin of error for the survey results is plus or minus 4 percent (at the 95 percent confidence level).

Harris County is the third most populous county in the nation and is home to approximately one fifth of Texas voters. The 2008 and 2012 presidential contests were very close in Harris County, with Barack Obama defeating his 2008 Republican rival, John McCain, 50.45 percent to 48.82 percent, and his 2012 Republican rival, Mitt Romney, 49.39 percent to 49.31 percent.

The Presidential Election: Vote Choice

Approximately two months prior to the November 8 presidential election, the survey finds Hillary Clinton with a lead over Donald Trump in Harris County, with the size of her lead varying depending on assumptions related to voter participation.

Candidate    ELV    LV    RV
Clinton      43%   43%   42%
Trump        39%   34%   32%
Johnson       7%    9%    9%
Stein         1%    1%    2%
Unsure/NA    11%   13%   15%

We divided the survey respondents into three groups of decreasing size: all registered voters (Registered Voters), voters who indicated that it is very likely or extremely likely that they will vote this fall (Likely Voters), and voters who indicated that it is extremely likely they will vote this fall (Extremely Likely Voters).


The Harris County District Attorney and Sheriff Elections: Vote Choice

The survey also queried respondents regarding their vote preference in the key races for Harris County District Attorney and Harris County Sheriff. In both contests, even among the likely and extremely likely voters, there existed a substantial proportion of respondents who were unsure about their preference in these lower visibility contests (compared to the presidential race).

Among those likely voters who did have a preference, in the District Attorney race 29 percent favored Democratic challenger Kim Ogg over Republican incumbent Devon Anderson with 27 percent support. In the Sheriff contest, 33 percent of likely voters supported Republican incumbent Ron Hickman while 32 percent backed Democratic challenger Ed Gonzalez.

Just as was the case in the presidential race, the Republican candidates fared better when the population was limited to those most likely to cast a ballot this fall: the extremely likely voters. Among this population Anderson narrowly bested Ogg, 30 percent to 29 percent, while Hickman increased his lead over Gonzalez, 36 percent to 30 percent.

Poll data is here. My thoughts:

– I find the distinction between Likely Voters and Extremely Likely Voters to be silly. I mean, why stop at Extremely Likely? Why not ask if someone is Super Duper Double Dog No Backsies likely to vote? There’s a reason why every other poll under the sun uses Registered Voters and Likely Voters, and nothing else.

– The press release for this poll claims that “neither party can depend on presidential coattails” for the donwballot races. I don’t see how they can draw that conclusion from the given data set. For one thing, there’s no breakdown of the vote by partisan affiliation, nor is there any generic “which party’s candidates are you more likely to support in other races?” question. We have several cycles’ worth of actual results to suggest that Democrats have done a pretty good job of voting all the way down the ballot, while Republicans have only really done that in 2012, and even then not quite as faithfully as the Dems. Don’t make suppositions about what the topline numbers mean. Ask the questions that could tell you the answers!

– I picked the “Likely Voter” numbers for my post title, and if one went by that without knowing anything else, one would feel really good about Democratic downballot chances. But to be secure in those feelings, one would have to know those partisan crosstabs. If one were to choose an archetype for the Republican Who Will Not Vote For Donald Trump, it’s probably a voter in HD134. How many self-identified Republicans say they are voting for a candidate who is not Donald Trump? How many are just in the “Unsure/No Answer” column? That would tell me a whole lot more about the downballot races than the actual Ogg/Anderson and Gonzalez/Hickman results do.

– How many new voters are in this sample, and how many of them are deemed “Likely” or “Extremely Likely”? We know voter registration is up in Harris County – indeed, it’s way up around the state – so who are these voters and how were they accounted for in the poll?

– I would love to see a similar poll – with my suggested modifications, of course – for other area counties as well. Fort Bend would be my first choice for this, as they are close to being the kind of swing county that Harris has been. Is the year that Fort Bend Democrats break through, or does the Fort Bend GOP maintain its hold? A sneak preview of that answer would have been nice.

– If the polls of Texas that show Clinton trailing by significantly less than the margins by which President Obama lost the state are accurate, then it stands to reason that Clinton would be doing better in Harris County than Obama (who won the county by small margins) did. Similarly, if this poll of Harris County is accurate, then it stands to reason Clinton would be running more strongly statewide than Obama did. It’s like the relationship between national polls and state polls – they may not be tightly correlated, but one is unlikely to make a big move in a given direction without the other following suit.

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24 Responses to UH Hobby School (Harris County only): Clinton 43, Trump 34

  1. PDiddie says:

    I’m not defending the poll (I think it’s kinda crappy, too) but this statement…

    “For one thing, there’s no breakdown of the vote by partisan affiliation”

    … runs counter to what I found on page 5 here.

  2. PDiddie – I’m talking about a chart where they show what percentage of Democrats/Republicans/Independents are voting for which candidate. They did that for Anglos, African-Americans, and Latinos, but not for self-identified partisans. Without that, you can’t tell what the crossover potential is for any of the Presidential candidates, which in turn muddles the picture for the downballot races. I can’t believe they don’t have this data, especially since as you note they did show what the overall partisan composition was of the poll. They just didn’t include it in their summary.

    FYI, the 2015 poll you are criticizing was a KHOU/KUHF poll, done by Bob Stein. This one was from the Hobby Center at UH, done by (among others) Mark Jones.

  3. Neither Here Nor There says:

    Forget crossover, that is not something that happens often.

    The difference is that they are working in bring out new voters and likely voters, using the same method that Obama used to bring out the votes when many polls had him losing.

    Since the number of straight party voters is much higher that translates into coattails for down ballot.

    I maintain that the Clinton campaign sees something or they would not have an office here.

    If all you so called Democrats would work your precincts, all new registered voters you could help your party.

    While I consider myself and independent, but not this year. This November Iwill vote straight Democrat as the Republicans have opened my eyes of the extent of the racism and bigotry in their party.

  4. Mark P. Jones says:

    Among Likely Voters.

    Republican Identifiers: Trump (77%), Johnson (10%), Clinton (5%), Stein (0%), NR/U (8%).
    Democrat Identifiers: Clinton (78%), Johnson (6%), Trump (3%), Stein (2%), NR/U (11%).
    True Independents: Clinton (33%), Johnson (22%), Trump (6%), Stein (0%), NR/U (39%).

  5. Bill Daniels says:


    Watched any of the many blm riots lately? Did you see racism and bigotry on display, in addition to plain old lawlessness? Did you see white people getting beaten up by black mobs? They used to call this “wilding” when it happened in NYC, back in the day. Do you remember in Ferguson, an Asian guy was getting beaten up, until one of the mob correctly pointed out that the guy being beaten was Asian, not white? Is that the racism and bigotry you are going to vote for this year?

    You would prefer to vote for the actual hands on racism, over the pretend, made up racism of Trump’s people? While there were a few cases of Trump supporters aiding in the removal of disruptive protesters from Trump rallies, I can’t recall roving bands of Trump supporters going around attacking people based on race, or, for that matter, burning, rioting, and looting, either. In fact, what I do remember seeing was reports of violence AGAINST Trump supporters heading to or leaving his rallies. Maybe that wasn’t racially motivated, though. Am I wrong?

  6. Tom says:

    @Bill Daniels:

    The racism of Trump’s supporters is neither pretend nor made-up.

  7. dbcsez says:

    It’s a minor quibble, but the percentage of Texas voters living in Harris County is closer to 15% than one-fifth. It is about the same as Harris’s portion of the state’s population, 4.4 million out of about 28 million in Texas. In 2012, about 8 million ballots were cast statewide, of which just south of 1.2 million were from Harris.

    We’re still the #3 county in population nationwide, after LA and Cook Counties, with about as many people as the nation of Croatia.

  8. Neither Here Nor There says:

    By the way Bill your argument is the same as the one used by Trump Jr. in the skittle twit. Which is take a few events and make the entire group toxic, it is a false argument.

    It is the same that Trump has used to win the Republican nomination and as he is proud to state received more votes than any other Republican primary candidate.

    Mexicans are racists or drug dealers, Muslims are terrorists. For years Trumps has claimed the president was not born here and that he a Muslim.

    I apologize for saying to go crawl under the rock, you may be a decent person that has a lack of empathy or education. But the argument you used is racist.

    I based my statement as to how many racists and bigots, based on the person that the GOP chose to lead the party.

  9. Bill Daniels says:


    “A few events?” Do you really believe that we won’t see more San Bernadinos, more Orlandos, more NYC’s, more St. Clouds? The Skittles analogy is spot on. Racist? Really? Would it somehow have been better for him to use widgets as the analogy? Import enough widgets from Chinese factories and a small but certain number of widgets will malfunction, causing injury and death. I really just cannot see how candy can be racist and “triggering,” causing people to run to their safe spaces. Really.

    And speaking of empathy, of course I empathize with people trying to seek a better life. Who would not? I do however, have enough education to know that the US is a lifeboat, and like any other lifeboat, it can only accommodate a certain amount of people who will not bail out the water before it capsizes.

  10. Mainstream says:

    I don’t trust the DA and Sheriff data, because I think name ID for the Democrat challengers is low, and that Democrats are likely to vote for those candidates even if they cannot recognize their names today.

  11. Brad says:


    I guarantee that if multiple Trump unarmed supporters (guess their ethnicity) with their hands up in the air were killed repeatedly by persons of color there would be “roving bands” of Trump supporters like an ant hill had been kicked over and they would be “aiding” the local community. Think White Citizens Counil.

    They wouldn’t call it “wilding” though…they would call it “whiting”.

  12. Brad says:


    your empathy rings a bit hollow when the conversation is being held about humans…families with children…literally fleeing for their lives.

    When you say “capsize” do you really mean “before there is inconvenience”?

  13. Jules says:

    The skittles meme isn’t racist because of skittles. WOW.

    Candy isn’t racist. People are racist.

  14. Bill Daniels says:


    You know how, when you fly, in the event of an emergency, you should put your oxygen mask on first, then help others put on their oxygen masks? That’s the same principle at work here. If we continue our open borders policy of importing the entire 3rd world here both legally AND illegally, our country will be drug down to 3rd world status, too, and we won’t be able to help anybody.

    Do you see Mexico, for example, helping other countries across the globe? Why not? Are they racist bigots, or is it because they can’t even help themselves, so they don’t have the resources and wherewithal to help other nations across the globe.

    We have enough impoverished people in the US already. We really don’t need to be importing more poverty.

  15. Jules says:

    Bill, in what other ways do you think Mexico is superior to the US?

  16. Neither Here Nor There says:

    Bill you keep digging a bigger hole, you really need to stop.

    Why change the argument to only what I presume to be people you refer to “Illegals”?

    If maybe it was just about illegal immigration, maybe Trump could receive a pass as not being racist. Trump did not qualify his statement to persons who get here illegally, he said;

    “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

    Bill that Skittle argument is not the first time it has been used, M & Ms were used previously. It is a false argument that can be used against any group of people.

    I do have some questions are you against no more immigration. No more H 1-B or H-2B immigrants. How about marriages or adoptions? Where would you draw the line? Should Trump have an imported wife? What type of immigration would you allow?

  17. Paul Kubosh says:

    Perhaps you should just enforce the laws on the books. How about that. As far as Muslim immigration Trump has been clear. If you come from the Countries that are a hot bed of ISIS you shouldn’t be allowed to be here. If we can’t vet you. You shouldn’t come here. If you are Muslim and are from any other country and can be vetted then fine. Follow the law and you can come in. We are happy to have you.

    Also the biggest racist statement of the campaign is “All trump supporters are racist”. If I don’t vote for Hillary then I am racist.


  18. Paul Kubosh says:

    All of that is a little off topic to this post. I think that was an excellent Post. Good analysis Charles.

  19. Bill Daniels says:


    I recognize your post is tongue in cheek sarcasm, but I don’t get what you are trying to point out. Mexico is pretty much a failed nation state. Their dominant political party, the PRI, is firmly in bed with the drug cartels. The people of Mexico voted PAN and got Vicente “I’m not paying for the wall” Fox and found out nothing changed, despite the bluster by Vicente that he would fix the problem. So they just kept voting PRI after that, as well as continuing their exodus to the US….because Mexico is a failed county, exporting its problems here.


    I know your probing questions are intended to ferret out my deep seeded bigotry, racism, misogyny, etc., but the truth is a lot less exciting. I agree that Trump didn’t qualify his statement when he said it. He has since done so. That’s my line in the sand, also. Get rid of the illegals, Mexican, and otherwise, and get rid of them BEFORE they drop anchor babies and start sucking on the taxpayers’ teat. Get rid of them before they have a chance to commit crimes here that we must pay to incarcerate them for. Get rid of the illegal alien “unaccompanied Central American minors” (gang members, most of them) that Obama not only failed to deport, but spent taxpayer money flying to parts unknown into the interior of the US.

    My qualifiers for entry to the US are threefold: 1) do it legally 2) be self sufficient, and 3) I must be absolutely, positively sure that you won’t try to kill me and other Americans.

    Taking Muslims, especially from places where the potential immigrants can’t be properly vetted? Yeah, I’d rather not take the risk.

    When people didn’t want the Irish here, it was a matter of bigotry. When people didn’t want the Catholics here, it was a matter of bigotry. When people like me tell you they don’t want more Muslims here, it’s a matter of security. The Irish and Catholics weren’t mass murdering Americans. Most of our Muslim immigrants haven’t done that, either, but some have, and there’s a real and significant risk of more attacks, especially with newer arrivals. That’s the difference.


    You’re just going to have to accept your “deplorable” moniker with humor and aplomb. What else can you do when faced with Alinsky tactics?

  20. Jules says:

    You seriously don’t get what I’m trying to point out? Let me break it down for you:

    You say that Mexico doesn’t take in refugees.

    You say that the US should adopt the same policy as Mexico.

    Either you think Mexico’s policy is superior or for some reason you think we should adopt an inferior policy.

    My question is: in what other ways do you think Mexico is superior to the US?

  21. Bill Daniels says:

    OK, let’s compare refugee policies.

    Mexico doesn’t take Muslim refugees because (pick one) they can’t afford to take care of them, they don’t want them, and they don’t have jobs for them.

    The US shouldn’t take in Muslim refugees because (pick one or both) we can’t afford to bring in people who are not self sufficient, and we shouldn’t bring in people who may want to kill us and take away our liberty.

    I’d say in this narrow case, it’s a draw. Neither MX or E.E.U.U. are superior.

  22. brad m says:

    Lets 1) take the killers and liberty takers who don’t self identify themselves as such after a +one year, nine step, multi-agency background process and we certainly need to make sure to 2) keep out the terrified Muslim families fleeing high probability death who will hopefully die somewhere else and stop inconveniencing us with all this theoretical talk.

  23. brad moore says:

    Let’s just keep these people as far away as possible. Too much dust could get into our country.


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