UH poll: Turner 43, Buzbee 23, King 8

Another encouraging poll for Mayor Turner as early voting starts.

Mayor Sylvester Turner retains a wide lead over his opponents, most of whom have failed to gain traction with weeks left until Election Day, according to a University of Houston poll released Sunday.

The poll, published on the eve of early voting, shows Turner with 43.5 percent support among likely voters, followed by lawyer and businessman Tony Buzbee at 23.4 percent. Bill King, Turner’s 2015 runoff opponent, trails with 7.8 percent, while 6.8 percent of voters said they support Councilman Dwight Boykins.

Former councilwoman Sue Lovell was backed by 1.2 percent of respondents, while 0.2 percent of voters said they support one of the other seven candidates. Another 17.2 percent of likely voters said they remain undecided.

For the poll, 501 likely voters were surveyed between Oct. 1 and Oct. 9. The margin of error is 4.4 percent.

Released weeks after a prior survey found Turner leading with 37 percent support, the new survey shows the mayor inching closer to the 50 percent-plus-one vote he would need to win the Nov. 5 election. If no candidate receives a majority of votes, the election will head to a December runoff between the top two finishers.

A significant share of undecided voters said they are considering Turner or view him favorably, results that indicate he has a narrow but unlikely path to outright victory on Nov. 5.

“Anything’s possible,” said Renée Cross, senior director of the Hobby School of Public Affairs and co-director of the poll. “Prior to this poll, I would have put my money on a runoff. But if you look at the undecided voters, there’s a possibility he could squeak it out in the general.”

See here for more on that previous poll, which was done by KHOU and Houston Public Media, and here for the details of this poll with the usual caveats about how tricky it is to poll municipal elections applying. I would not read this as evidence of Turner increasing his lead – it’s just two polls, two individual data points, there’s not nearly enough data to make claims about a trend – but it is corroborating evidence that Turner has a solid lead, that Buzbee hasn’t gotten much traction despite his millions in ads, and that Bill King is basically an afterthought. As with the other poll, Turner has a healthy, majority-support lead in runoffs with both Buzbee and King. This poll also found that a lot of undecideds lean Turner, and he’s pick up most of Boykins’ voters in overtime. Finally, Donald Trump has a 63-32 unfavorable rating in Houston, so the runoff campaign ads write themselves. All told, a whole lot of good and not much bad for Turner. I don’t know that I’d go so far as to say he could win in November – I think the path for that is too narrow – but he’s clearly in good shape.

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3 Responses to UH poll: Turner 43, Buzbee 23, King 8

  1. Mainstream says:

    I would expect undecideds to either not vote, or vote consistently with the rest of the sample, so a November victory by Mayor Turner is entirely possible. If so, the December run-off will be a light turnout and could have surprising results.

  2. Brian says:

    So….out of 501 potential voters he got 43 percent? All this drama over a focus group poll? Please, polls are 9/10 times inaccurate. I know I haven’t been polled by anyone so who are these “likely voters?

  3. Steve Houston says:

    Brian, from the linked survey itself:
    “The representative survey was conducted between October 1 and October 9 in English or Spanish. Live operators called a mixture of landline and cellular phone numbers of registered voters in the City of Houston who had: 1) voted in the 2015 mayoral election, 2) not voted in the 2015 mayoral election but voted in the 2016 presidential and 2018 gubernatorial/midterm elections, 3) registered after the 2016 presidential election cycle but voted in the 2018 gubernatorial/midterm election, or 4) registered to vote after the 2018 gubernatorial/midterm election cycle. A screening question was then used to gauge the likelihood the individual would vote in the upcoming 2019 mayoral election, with the survey administered only to those who indicated they definitely would vote or probably would vote. In all, 501 likely Houston voters were interviewed who are representative of the electorate which is expected to vote in the November 5, 2019 City of Houston mayoral election.”

    As far as their accuracy is concerned, you might want to look up the track records of those conducting this one because they do much better than you believe. Skip the headline and read the details to find out how much better Turner fares under alternative scenarios.

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