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White leading, rail holding steady

Bill White continues to be the frontrunner in the latest poll taken on the upcoming election.

In the race to replace term-limited Mayor Lee Brown, White has 35 percent support while Sanchez has 25 percent and Turner has 19 percent.


At the beginning of the mayoral campaign, some analysts questioned if White, an Anglo businessman, could succeed against two better-known public figures with ethnic and partisan identities. Sanchez, a former city councilman, is a Hispanic Republican, and Turner, a state representative, is an African-American Democrat.

But White is running at least second in all three major demographic groups. He leads among whites, splits the Hispanic vote with Sanchez and draws about a fifth of the black support. Just under half of the black support goes to Turner, with most of the rest undecided.

White — former chairman of the state Democratic Party — split 70 percent of the Democratic support evenly with Turner, and also drew almost 30 percent of the respondents who identified themselves as Republicans. Fewer than 10 percent of Democrats supported Sanchez.

Sanchez drew support of half the respondents who identified themselves as Republicans, with just 2 percent supporting Turner.

“Bill White seems to be putting together what academics call the rainbow coalition,” Stein said.

Sanchez, who would be the city’s first Hispanic mayor, appears to be losing the base that nearly helped him beat Brown in a 2001 runoff. The poll indicates that about 25 percent of voters who said they supported Sanchez in 2001 now support White.

If White gets into a runoff, he would fare well against either Sanchez or Turner, according to the poll.

In a hypothetical runoff with Sanchez, respondents preferred White 49 percent to 33 percent. Paired with Turner, White got 48 percent to 26 percent.

Turner and Sanchez are statistically tied at about 40 percent in a hypothetical runoff.

Though White leads the poll, his support is the softest while Turner’s is strongest. More than three-fourths of Turner supporters described their support as “strong,” compared with 69 percent strong support for Sanchez and 58 percent for White.

“I think that’s because Bill White is a new face to a lot of voters and they still don’t know a lot about him other than what they have seen in this campaign,” Murray said.

Don’t think you could ask for any better than that if you’re a White fan. As Greg notes, George Strong has revised his projection to suggest a tiny lead for White. If this is on target, it validates something I’ve said all along, namely that Sanchez will not do as well with Hispanic voters as he did in 2001.

For that matter, Sanchez isn’t doing that well with Anglo voters, and he’s no longer close personal television buddies with the Bush family, as Rick Casey notes.

Two years ago, the president and his mother and father had jumped into the Houston mayor’s race by this point.

President Bush had endorsed Orlando Sanchez. Former President Bush and Barbara cut a warm television spot for him.

This summer, political pros were predicting the same dynamic. The national Republicans would love to be able to show off an attractive Republican Hispanic as mayor of the nation’s fourth-largest city.

A Mayor Sanchez could be an appreciated campaigner in some key states, including the still-crucial state of Florida.

But days before the election, the Bushes are nowhere to be seen.

This is not an oversight. President Bush recently spoke by phone to several Houston leaders, asking their take on the race.

What he heard from a number of sources was that Sanchez was not doing well.

The president also heard that the Republicans would benefit from supporting Sanchez only if he did a good job as mayor, an “if” made large by Sanchez’s sketchy job background.

Chances are Bush was not surprised. A number of his friends and supporters were early supporters of Bill White.

Though he’s far from alone in doing so, Sanchez’s advertising has gotten increasingly negative lately. Unfortunately for him, White has bought up most of the good time slots already. Oops. This article notes the earlier anti-White radio advertising by “Citizens for a Better America” that Strong alluded to. I guess this means that the deception has been going on longer than we thought.

In other poll news, light rail is holding to its lead though still not polling over 50%. The local experts expect it to pass, but I’ll be nervous until the numbers are crunched. Finally, pretty much every other race is a question mark as nobody seems to know who any of the candidates are. “None of the above” still isn’t an option on the eSlate machines, so we’ll know soon enough. BTW, am I the only person wondering what the margin of error on these numbers is?

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